Edward Wolstanton stood at Edinburgh Waverley train station and checked his watch. Two minutes until the 6:04 from King’s Cross would arrive at platform nine. He pulled out the letter from his pocket and reread the words for the umpteenth time.
Dear Mr. Wolstanton,
I received your last letter and am most grateful for your kind and fortuitous offer. We shall send Poppy to you in a fortnight. She will take the 9:43 train from King’s Cross to Edinburgh Waverley, arriving at 6:04 p.m. I shall remain hopeful that you might reform my wayward daughter before she becomes irredeemable. You have my express support to employ any means necessary to necessitate an improvement in her behavior. She has changed greatly since last you saw her. So that you might know her from the train, she has dyed-black hair (naturally blonde) which she has mutilated into what the younger folk are calling a ‘bob,’ blue eyes, height 5′4″, of slim build. She dresses in the dreadful ‘flapper’ style and speaks in a most vulgar manner. I am extremely grateful for your assistance and I look forward to hearing news of your progress in due course. Arthur sends his best.
Rupert Hawthorne, third Earl of Hathersedge
Edward didn’t know quite what to expect from Poppy, given what her father had told him, but underneath it all, she must still be the same girl, surely. If he were honest with himself, he was more than a little excited to get to see her again, after all these years.
When the steam engine arrived, Edward gazed across the platform, ready to assist his wayward charge with her baggage, but nobody matching her description seemed to have alighted the train. Once the platform was clear, he searched for the conductor.
“Pardon me, have you seen a flapper girl with a black bob at all?”
“Oh, yes, sir; got off at Haymarket, she did. Helped ‘er with ‘er luggage, I did. Thought it were odd that no one was there to meet ‘er, sir. Did you get the stations mixed up? Next train headed that way is the 6:09 to Newcastle, sir.”
Edward furrowed his brow in consternation. Why had the girl decided to give him the slip? He gave the conductor a shilling for his trouble, and got the next train to Edinburgh’s Haymarket district.
Further enquiries revealed that the girl had taken a taxicab to a nearby address. Edward went straight there and knocked on the door of a tenement building. From inside, he heard strains of a piano. When nobody answered, he pushed the door open and proceeded down the long corridor to a curving staircase. Following his ears, he reached the second floor door behind which the piano was being played, and he banged on the wood loudly. Abruptly, the piano stopped. The door opened a crack, and a white, round face peered out at him through heavy kohl. The scent of opium was rife.
“You’re not the milkman,” the face said.
“Most definitely, I am not. I am here to collect a certain Miss Hawthorne.”
The face looked away for a moment, then turned back to him. “She’s not here.”
“I have it on good authority that she is,” Edward replied.
“No, she’s just climbed out of the window.”
He cursed and ran downstairs, through to the basement. As he suspected, there was a back door leading to a communal garden. A young woman, whom he deduced was his wayward charge, was carefully climbing down a metal drainpipe with a carpetbag on her left shoulder. She reached the ground, and her face fell when she turned and saw him. He was a little disappointed that she was unhappy to lay eyes upon him, since they’d always gotten along in the past, but given the reason she was here, he understood why she might prefer not to be near him.
She had changed so much in the intervening years since the time he danced with her, and now, he barely recognized her. Her black hair fell to just past her earlobes, with a straight fringe that nearly scraped her eyebrows. Thick black-rimmed eyes and bright red lipstick contrasted with pale powder, but it all conspired to obscure her natural features, which had been rather pleasant when last he saw them. He stood with his arms folded and a stern gaze as he looked upon her.
“You’ve not aged a day since I last saw you,” she remarked.
“You, on the other hand, are now an adult of twenty-two. And you were given instructions to get off the train at Edinburgh’s main station, not here, and to wait for me, were you not, Poppy?”
She startled and glared at him, her face twisted into a furious snarl. “It’s Adeline now. Don’t ever call me that again.”
He decided to not rise to the bait she was trying to give him. Instead, he nodded. “All right, Adeline. There must have been a miscommunication because your father never mentioned that you were going by your middle name these days.”
“He’d have to get his head out of the clouds for long enough to remember that I have a name.”
Edward frowned. He didn’t know the Earl of Hathersedge very well, but it seemed a shame that anyone would simply ignore a young lady who was so obviously in need of assistance. Climbing out of windows and down drainpipes was not an appropriate way for a young woman to deal with something she didn’t want to do. Someone surely must have taught her that by now.
“Where’s the rest of your luggage?” he asked.
“Didn’t bring any. You’ll send me home tomorrow and we’ll forget this ever happened.”
If Poppy—Adeline, he hastily corrected himself—thought for a moment that he was going to give up on her so easily, she had another think coming.
“Balderdash. Now come along, or do I have to carry you?”
“Well, if you’re offering,” she remarked saucily, then sashayed toward the gate. It led to a side road, which took them back to the vicinity of the train station in no time. Edward summoned a cab.
“Where to, guv’nor?”
“Eleven Moray Place,” he said, taking Adeline’s hand to ensure that she had no opportunity to give him the slip.
The cab drew up in the circular street where Edward’s townhouse stood in a neat row with two dozen others. In the center, there was a small grassy area. It was the most sought-after address in Edinburgh and Edward had bought his house here as soon as his inheritance had been finalized, eight years ago.
Edward unlocked the door and held it open for Adeline. Looking rueful, she stepped in behind him.
The sound of Edward closing the door behind her put Adeline in mind of the clanging of cell doors at the various constabularies where she’d been briefly incarcerated for numerous reasons. Normally, if she was incarcerated, she would lie to the arresting officer about her name and where she lived, so her parents never found out and so she didn’t have a criminal record. Unfortunately, given that Edward knew her father and brother, she couldn’t exactly give him a false address and wait for one of her chums to post bail.
This was such nonsense. Why did her family have to get in the way of her living life to the fullest? As Edward finished locking the front door, a chill ran through her body. He was very dapper, in his dark blue suit and matching tie, and a crisp white shirt. His blue eyes hadn’t changed, although his brown hair seemed darker, somehow. When had he become so… eligible? The last time she’d seen him had been at the engagement party, when his sister and her brother had celebrated their forthcoming wedding. The wedding that never happened.
She put it out of her mind a moment too late, and the memory of Arthur and Felicity’s doomed love stabbed at her heart. Seven years ago, Adeline had been fifteen and Edward had recently turned twenty, and everyone had still been optimistic that the hateful Great War would be over by Christmas. It had become a maxim, year after year, so that when the detente was finally agreed, no one had been able to believe it was really, truly going to end before Christmas 1918.
She tried not to think about it all, but seeing Edward again had dragged up the past. So Adeline did what she always did when she felt sad. She got angry, and she immediately started planning how to escape.
“I’ll show you to your room. There’s a woman who cooks and another who cleans, and there’s my valet, Guy. They will see to your needs. Dinner is served at seven-thirty sharp. I will expect you to be appropriately attired; if you’ve nothing suitable, Guy shall fetch something of Felicity’s from her room. Under no circumstances are you to go into her room, it is exactly as she left it before she… before she departed for the Somme. Am I making myself clear?”
Adeline shrugged then nodded. They began to walk up the stairs. The walls around the staircase were decorated in a pretty wallpaper consisting of a white background with blue damask patterns over the top. Occasionally, the damask was punctuated by framed photographs that seemed to be old daguerreotypes of stiff Victorian people. The staircase opened into a wide second floor landing above the main entrance hall, and it was papered in the same damask but instead of photographs, there were three framed embroideries on the wall.
“Did Fliss sew those?” Adeline asked. She saw a momentary flash of sadness cross Edward’s features before he regained control, then he frowned and nodded. She regretted asking.
He opened a door for her and placed her bag on the floor, but didn’t enter. “This is your room. Remain here until the dinner bell. After dinner, I shall decide on the consequences for your earlier behavior.”
The room was nice enough; it was papered with pale pink roses on a white background. The ceiling light was electric, which Adeline always preferred to the gas ones, and the carpet was a nondescript, faded tartan of some sort, in red and gold. It matched the curtains. There was also a single bed, with a white-painted metal frame that put Adeline in mind of a hospital, and a wooden dresser with a decent-sized mirror. Beside the bed, a nightstand held an empty glass and a jug, both on doilies, clearly put there in anticipation of Adeline’s arrival. There was not a speck of dust to be seen anywhere.
“I wait with bated breath,” she said sarcastically as she stepped inside. Consequences? Was he going to withhold dessert? She wasn’t going to let him control her. Why her parents had the preposterous notion that he would be able to handle her, when they couldn’t, she would never know. She certainly had no intention of dressing up for dinner. Eager to show him that she couldn’t be pushed around, she lined her eyes with extra-thick kohl and added her reddest lipstick, then rolled her skirt up an extra turn beneath her top.
When the dinner bell rang, Adeline went downstairs, defiant in her short, pleated skirt and low-cut top.
Edward’s dining room was decorated with more of the damask wallpaper, although this time it was deep red, and the fireplace had a painting of a man in a redcoat, looking fresh from the American War of Independence; a dog sat dutifully at his heel. It was all so colonialist, and Adeline hated it. Feeling mutinous, she sat down squarely at the head of the table and proceeded to begin carving the meat. She knew that, according to etiquette, the man of the house sat at the head of the table and cut the first slice of meat, and that it was terrible manners for a lady to try to carve her own meat at all, but she chose to disregard that in favor of doing what she liked.
“Good grief!” Edward proclaimed when he reached the doorway to the dining room. She was halfway through putting the beef on her own plate when Edward crossed the room in four strides and snatched the carving knife out of her hand before yanking her out of her seat.
“Guy, we shall be a few minutes at most.” Edward spoke to his manservant in clipped tones. Adeline tried to pull free but he held her upper arm with an iron grip as he dragged her from the room. He propelled her into a sitting room filled with overstuffed armchairs and chintz fabrics, and shut the door behind him. The curtains were closed already.
“After your behavior this afternoon, it would have been sensible to do as you were told this evening.” He stood before her and at this distance, she was very aware of his presence. Her legs quivered, but she tried to stand her ground. This was no time to back down just because his masculine scent was making her feel strange.
“I’m not wearing a prissy dress!”
“If you will not dress appropriately for dinner, then you shall not dress at all.” He yanked her skirt down and she squealed in horror. Covering herself with her hands, she couldn’t stop him from unbuttoning her top. The closeness of his body to hers made her inhale sharply. She blushed shamefully as her shirt fell down her shoulders and exposed her underwear. He eyed her semi-naked body for about half a second longer than was respectable, and she didn’t know whether to hide her cleavage or thighs with her hands, which suddenly seemed very small and unsuited to the task of hiding her body from a man’s gaze. He seemed to be fighting the urge to smile, but whether there was any approval in the expression, or if he was simply amused at something, she did not know.
“At least you had the decency to put on some underthings beneath that getup,” he remarked, but his approval seemed slightly sarcastic and made her flush a deeper crimson.
Once she was in her underwear, he reached down to her stockings. His fingers softly brushed against the untouched skin of her thighs, and she quivered as she imagined his hands around her waist, reassuring but firm, his thumbs caressing her belly. She dragged her thoughts back to the present just in time for him to unclip her garters and discard them.
Wanting to fight him off, to show resistance, she just couldn’t rouse herself from her reverie. A mild horror accompanied the realization that she was an adult, confronted with a childhood friend who was undressing her for some sort of punishment, and she wanted him.
He rolled her stockings down, making her feel more naked than she had ever thought was possible, while he picked each leg up in turn to remove the hosiery. Now, she stood before him in only the sheer silk chemise, which barely covered her breasts and gaped between them, as was the current style.
Feeling furiously embarrassed and extremely hot, she turned her head away from him before she recovered her scathing sarcasm.
“Like what you see? Bet you collect magazine pictures of girls in their underthings, don’t you?” she said.
Instead of wrong-footing him or provoking a series of denials, she seemed to have galvanized his will, for he chose that moment to sit in an overstuffed armchair and pull her over his knee. The position was not lost on her, and she inhaled sharply in horror because there was only one thing anybody did once they had a girl over their knee, bottom upturned, face and feet near the floor. Her black silky knickers almost completely protected her bottom cheeks, though, so even if he really was going to spank her like an errant schoolgirl, it couldn’t possibly hurt.
Telling herself there was no possibility that stuffy, proper Edward would really spank her, she yelped when his hand connected loudly with her bottom, resonating throughout the room with a loud clap. The sting was instant and seemed to cover most of her right cheek. He brought his hand down over and over in a brisk pace, raining hard swats of fire over her bottom cheeks before she opened her mouth to protest.
“How dare you? When my father hears about this, you’ll be sorry!” she protested, trying to avoid the spanks. She was infuriated. How dare he punish her like a naughty child? She shifted around on his knee hoping to escape, but he held her firmly. A warm glow flashed through her nether regions as she realized he had bested her.
“Your father gave me express permission to use any means necessary to improve your attitude, young lady, and that is what I’m doing.” Edward spoke calmly. His voice didn’t match with the flurry of sharp swats he was subjecting her sit-spot to.
“No! He wouldn’t! Not if he knew you were… doing this to me!” she retorted hotly.
“I don’t think he was especially interested in the details,” Edward said. She kicked and wriggled and generally made a nuisance of herself attempting to inconvenience him as much as possible during this spanking. Truly, she was unable to escape, and part of her liked being thoroughly helpless while someone held her to account, not because she had conceded to their pathetic protests, but because they had the guts to overpower her and compel her to obey. There was a strong sense of satisfaction that accompanied the feeling of helplessness. Her underwear grew wet and her nipples hardened in response to being forced to submit.
Horrified at her weakness, she buried her emotions and fought him with redoubled effort. It hurt, though, and despite the fact she didn’t stop fighting him, his swats gave her pause for thought. How long would he keep this up? Could she fight back for longer than he could spank her?
“If you continue resisting me while you are over my knee, and threatening to tattle to your father, I will give you some letter paper once this is over and I will stand beside you and make you write a letter to the Earl of Hathersedge detailing exactly what I am doing right now, including how you are dressed, how your bottom feels, the color it has turned—a tantalizing pink, if you care to know—and what, precisely, you did to earn the punishment, starting with the rummy business at the train station.” Edward paused spanking her and gently caressed her bottom. It burned so much that it even felt pink, especially when he touched her.
He continued outlining the potential future punishment as his fingers trailed along her skin. “I will then expect you to address it and take it to the post office where you will tell the postmistress that you are writing to your father to inform him that you are in disgrace, although you will kindly spare her the details as I wouldn’t want you to offend her sensibilities.”
He landed some particularly hard swats on the skin between the top of her thighs and her bottom cheeks and she growled in frustration. It was so undignified and she growled at the sharper sting as his hand connected with the sensitive skin there.
As if his threat of humiliation and enforced spanking weren’t bad enough, he leaned down to her ear and quietly murmured in a low voice, his Scottish vowels piercing his otherwise refined English accent, “Of course, when writing to your father, you can leave out the fact that your knickers are soaked through.”
A bolt of lightning exploded in her belly when he said that, and as she gasped in horror that he knew her secret, her face flushed with warmth. Something between her legs throbbed with need, and her heart felt exposed as tears threatened her eyes.
The punishment was throwing up some emotions she’d buried deep inside herself years ago, and as they appeared, she was barely able to identify vulnerability and sadness before they transformed into fuel for her ever-burning anger.
After a while, Edward turned her off his knee and stood up. Adeline stood barely eighteen inches from him and glared with resentment and fury.
“You are thoroughly incorrigible,” he declared. “Go and stand in that corner.”
“I will not.” She turned to walk out of the sitting room, but before she reached the door, he had seized her by the upper arm. He wasn’t rough, she noticed, just firm. Again, a thrill of sexual energy coursed through her body before she forcibly dismissed it and replaced it with more anger.
“Corner.” He frog-marched her there and left her. The moment he released her arm, she tried to run for the door.
“This ends, now.” He lifted her off the floor and put her over his shoulder. She pummeled on the back of his dinner jacket with her fists, and squeaked when he spanked her several times in rapid succession, adding a fresh fire to the burn in her bottom.
She stopped hitting him and lay limply against the expensive black cloth of his dinner jacket, realizing this whole situation was not only impossible to fight, but also unbelievably arousing. Something between her legs came alive and seemed to vibrate with energy and need. It was the same thing that sometimes awakened her on hot summer nights, filling her with an unexplainable need for something she couldn’t put a name to.
She had a view of the polished wood floor as he crossed the room to a bureau and opened a drawer, removed something then closed it again, before he deposited her on the floor in front of another armchair and positioned her so she was kneeling on the floor with her upper body pressed against the seat. He pinned both her wrists in the small of her back with one of his big hands, then something cold and leathery touched her bottom cheeks. He spoke clearly, and a slight trace of his Scottish accent was detectable through his upper-class enunciation.
“I wasn’t going to use this, particularly not on your first day here, but your behavior today has been downright shocking. You have been evasive, disrespectful, and extremely ill-mannered. If I didn’t know your parents, I’d wonder if you were raised under a bridge. There are consequences for poor behavior in this house, and I advise you to choose your future actions more carefully unless you wish to be punished most harshly.”
Not really understanding what he could possibly do, Adeline lifted her head and replied with, “Ooh, I’m so scared of the grumpy Scotsman. What are you going to do, feed me porridge until I promise to let my hair grow?”
The thing touching her bottom was lifted, and she thought he was about to release her. It thundered down against her cheeks in an almighty crack and she shrieked as it landed; the effect was instantaneous and pain seared through her bottom in a thick line. She struggled to try to get her hands away but he pinned them firmly. When she could speak again, she did.
“What was that?” she demanded.
“It’s called a tawse. It was invented for punishing naughty bottoms in schools. I acquired it to ensure Felicity remained on the straight and narrow after our parents passed away.”
Too astounded to speak, Adeline shrieked again as the tawse landed across her bottom a second time. It burned as it touched her skin.
“It’s very simple, Adeline; you can entirely avoid this experience by good conduct. Act with decorum. I am not being harsh and the things I asked you to do were not unreasonable.”
Adeline disagreed. The things he had asked of her were all the things a good little society girl should innately do, but she thought they were an utter waste of time and belonged in the past. She wanted to go out and see her friends, to drink liquor and drive around town in an automobile. She didn’t want to be stuck in a house, day in, day out, until someone saw fit to marry her. Anyway, with the national shortage of men, that was an unlikely thing.
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. The lines of one of Wilfred Owen’s poems came to mind. Edward wanted Adeline to behave with more decorum. Fat chance; it hadn’t done the soldiers any good. The tawse landed on her rear a third time and she shrieked again from the pain, but she refused to cry. She’d done all her crying over her brothers, then one day, she had drawn a line and decided there would be no more tears. Nothing else was worth crying over. Not now. She gritted her teeth and fought against the sadness. Most days, it took all her self-control, which didn’t leave a lot of restraint for her general demeanor.
When Edward tipped her upright, his expression had softened.
“You shall remain in your chemise within the house until you decide to dress yourself in a manner befitting your station. Skirts should cover your knees. There will be no more feathers in your hair or shirts which expose your bosom, either. You are heiress to the Hathersedge title and estate, not a music-hall bawdy.”
She stared at him, waiting for him to finish, and refusing to concede to his wishes. When she didn’t speak, he nodded as though the matter were settled.
“Very well, you shall eat in your chemise this evening.” He led her back to the dining room and pulled a chair away from the table.
She sat down gingerly, feeling like she wanted to rub the maddening sting from her bottom but not giving him the satisfaction of knowing how much it bothered her. He took his place at the head of the table, and dinner finally commenced.
At bedtime, Adeline lay on the soft mattress, blankets pulled up to her neck, and waited for sleep to come. It didn’t. The ache in her bottom still echoed from the tawse. She hardly ever slept these days. Anyway, there was a whole city full of people she’d never met, aside from a few acquaintances, and she wanted to go out on the town. The novelty of being in Edinburgh was too exciting, and there were so many places she’d heard about that she wanted to explore.
She sat up and looked for her clothing. Slipping on a skirt and top, she carried her shoes and purse as she crept out of the bedroom. At the top of the stairs, one of the floorboards creaked loudly, and she was certain that she would be caught, but nobody stirred.
Placing her feet very carefully, she tiptoed all the way down to the ground floor and turned the handle of the front door. It was locked. The key didn’t appear to be nearby, so she decided to use a ground floor window, instead. Curiously, most of the rooms were locked, too. She opened the only door she could, which led to the parlor where Edward had punished her previously.
No sooner had she stepped into the room than the light snapped on. Edward sat in an overstuffed armchair, a stern expression making his features more angular. A tingle coursed through her body as she realized he’d been waiting for her; corralled her, in fact, with all the locked doors.
“You knew?” Her heart leapt into her throat as she wondered if he was going to punish her again.
“How?” There was no possible way he knew she was going to try to escape before she did; it was barely five minutes ago that she’d had the impulse to sneak out.
He gave her a look that suggested he had expected better of her, but he had anticipated the worst anyway. For some reason, it made a glowing warmth spread through her nether regions to know that he’d bested her.
“Come along; I will return you to your bed and I don’t want to hear another word about sneaking out.” He was beside her in no time. The perpetual gentleman, he took the shoes and purse out of her hands and carried them for her, even as he grasped her arm with his free hand and guided her back upstairs to her room.
“Good night, Miss Hawthorne,” he said firmly, then closed her door. To her dismay, she heard him locking it from the other side. When she thought about it, she realized he could have locked it in the first place, but apparently he had wanted to give her a chance to behave herself. She tried the big sash window, but it wouldn’t slide up, and she was forced to concede that he had somehow locked that, too. At this point, she realized that she could simply go to bed and never think about making an excursion into town, but the unknown world beyond this stuffy room beckoned to her. The street outside looked so much more interesting than staying in her room. She cursed the day her eldest brother had brought the Wolstantons into her life. Edward was very attractive, which didn’t help, and she’d been furiously aware that his touch had made her long for him to take her in his arms and never leave her.
But love was for ninnies who believed the romantic notions of bygone years. Adeline refused to accept the idea that a man and a woman could ever fall in love, when the whole world was waiting to tear them apart.
If she stayed here, she was in grave danger of falling in love with Edward, which only concluded with being married to him, and he was so strict, that would be the end of her considerable freedom. She was angry at her parents for sending her here, angry at herself for not fighting them harder at King’s Cross station this morning, and especially, angry at Edward for being so attractive. The whole situation was infuriating. She hated showing specific emotions, such as love or sadness, almost as much as she hated experiencing them. They made her too vulnerable because they opened her heart up to a world where she could get hurt, and that made her feel stupid. There was no need to ever upset herself like that, and being angry would bury the glimmerings of her other feelings before they became uncontrollable.
When she heard no further sounds from the rest of the house, she rose from her bed and went to her window. It overlooked the street. The drop was about twenty feet, but she was confident she could do this.
Making up her mind, she waited until she was certain that everyone was truly in bed this time. If she did this, she knew she would have to never return. Her carpetbag was already packed. She wrapped a woolen sweater around her hand then she hit the windowpane with all her might. The loud smashing noise was satisfying, but the pain in her hand was immense, and when she unwrapped it, she saw a lot of blood that, once the sweater wasn’t in the way, poured everywhere.
“Blast!” She was very aware that she ought to staunch the profuse bleeding before she did anything else. It was damn inconvenient. To make matters worse, the noise of the window breaking had roused the house, and someone was running upstairs. She panicked as she heard the key in the door and decided to risk climbing out of the window. As she perched on the windowpane amidst jagged shards of glass, she heard the door slam open, and then she growled in frustration. A twenty-foot drop and no drainpipe that she could reach. Lightheadedness overcame her, and she shook her head to clear it, but before she planned her descent, she was hauled back inside.
“Good grief! Why did you do it? Is being here really all that bad?” Edward’s eyes fell on her hand then, and he seized it. After a perfunctory glance, he lifted her over his shoulder and ran down the stairs with her. She heard him lift the telephone’s earpiece.
“Operator? Yes, Doctor MacGregor, please.” He waited a few moments to be connected. “Hallo, old chap. Terribly sorry to rouse you at this hour; I’ve an emergency. Girl’s cut her hand on broken glass. Rather nasty scratch. Oh, would you mind? Thanks awfully.”
He replaced the receiver then carried her into the room with all the armchairs, where he tightly bound her hand with some gauze and held it above her head while they awaited the doctor. The entire time, he did not speak a word to her.
The doctor arrived and looked at her hand as she sat in one of the armchairs. He shook his head in amazement.
“How on Earth did she do this? Might have lost the use of her hand if she’d been a tenth of an inch lower!”
Adeline shook her head and pressed her lips together as Dr. MacGregor stitched the wound. The sensation of the stitches pulling on her skin was unnerving, and she didn’t trust herself to speak.
“She put her hand through a window,” Edward explained.
“Won’t do that again in a hurry, I’ll wager,” Dr. MacGregor remarked, as he worked methodically. Once the wound was closed, he dressed and bandaged it.
“I’m going to give her something to help her sleep,” he told Edward. Adeline’s heart sank. She didn’t want to be sedated at all.
“Thank you. Ordinarily I’d ask if it was really necessary, but given the circumstances I’ll concede. That was her second attempt to sneak out of the house, and if she keeps getting these ridiculous ideas into her head, I dread to find out what the third try would have been.”
The doctor gave Adeline a pill to swallow. She shook her head and pressed her lips together, but he forced his fingers into her mouth and pushed the pill inside, then watched her drink some water with it. She thought about biting his fingers while he was making her take the pill, but part of her longed for sleep. As Edward showed him to the door, she considered running past them, but she didn’t like the idea of being out somewhere when this pill took effect. When Edward returned, she opened her mouth to explain.
“No. I never want to see you hurt yourself like that again. You have caused enough trouble for one day. I shall punish you tomorrow. It would be most uncivilized to attempt to do such a thing before we have eaten, so I intend to do it after breakfast. Between now and then, you can sleep in another guestroom which doesn’t have a broken window, because I don’t wish you to catch a cold, and you can jolly well remain in your new bed until I personally fetch you at seven a.m. sharp.” He took her back upstairs and showed her into a different room, not bothering to get her belongings for her. With a length of rope, he tied her hands and feet so she could sleep, but couldn’t escape.
“So help me, if you escape from this, you will be sleeping in a straitjacket tomorrow night; I’m sure I can procure one from somewhere.”
The pill that the doctor had given her was starting to take effect, and Adeline found herself far too drowsy to try to resist, so she closed her eyes and went to sleep instead. For the first time in her adult life, she didn’t dream about looking for her brother Max in the trenches.