Nineteen-year-old Emma Bell checked herself out in front of the mirror. Smiling, she twirled around and admired the beautiful gown her father had bought for her. The gown was made up of many layers of white satin, all trimmed with lace. It was not as extravagant as the gowns she used to wear when the Bell family was more financially stable, but it was somehow more beautiful in its simplicity.
Emma knew they were struggling financially and she knew that because of this she had to try harder to find a husband to help them keep the Windmere estate in the family.
Emma’s father had brought home many possible suitors for his young daughter over the past year, but Emma was not willing to marry just anyone. Her parents had been blissfully happy for many years and she had loved to listen to their stories of how they had travelled the world before she was born. Emma never tired of hearing about distant lands and far-away places, and she longed to see the world herself. She had a real fascination with the American West in particular and she had decided that until she found a man who was willing to take her there and let her see the places she read and dreamed about, she would not give her hand in marriage to anyone.
Unfortunately for Emma it seemed that most men expected their wives to stay at home and raise a family and they laughed at the idea of her being allowed to travel. This angered Emma and she sent many suitors on their way with a few harsh words, which caused further words between Emma and her father after their departure.
The Windmere estate was quite large and her father was doing his best to keep it going, but they had had to let all their servants go over a year ago. Despite Emma’s initial reluctance to carry out the duties that had previously been the responsibilities of their staff, such as cooking and cleaning, Emma had been surprised to find she quite enjoyed doing many of these things.
Emma wished her mother was still here. She missed her every single day and her pain never seemed to ease. Her father had aged considerably over the past two years since his wife had died. Emma would never blame him for using all their money to try and find a cure for his wife’s illness, but sadly the money they had ploughed into her care and treatment had only given them a little more time with her.
Emma was deep in thought when she was startled by a knock at her bedroom door. “Come in,” she called to her father, turning to face him as he stepped into the room. Thomas Bell’s face lit up with pride as he moved towards his daughter and pulled her into his arms, hugging her tightly against him.
Holding her at arm’s length, Thomas spoke fondly to his only daughter. “Emma, you look beautiful. I love you so much.” His tone turned a little sterner as he continued to speak to her. “I know you have big plans for your future, but I hope those plans include building the Windmere estate back up to its former glory before we lose it forever?”
Emma nodded enthusiastically. She had loved the house when she was younger. It was so beautiful, but sadly it was looking a bit run down in recent years. She longed to restore it to its heyday, but she desperately wanted to see some of the world before she settled down. She didn’t think that was too much to ask for.
“This will all be yours one day but to keep it you really must marry well. Horatio Hawk will be here soon. I expect you to be on your best behavior, young lady,” her father warned her.
Emma giggled. “I’m sorry Daddy. His name is absolutely ridiculous. He is probably equally as foolish as his name.”
Thomas raised his eyebrows and spoke sternly to his daughter. “Emma, give the man a chance. He hasn’t even arrived yet and already he isn’t good enough for you. I expect you to be on your best behavior tonight. If you dare to show me up again with your childish behavior, I promise you’ll be very sorry.”
“Yes Daddy. I promise I’ll behave,” Emma answered meekly, knowing that she owed it to her father to at least to try to get along with Mr. Hawk. She had no concerns however about her father’s veiled threat to punish her. He frequently threatened her with physical chastisement but she knew he did not have the heart to punish his only daughter. As long as she promised to be good, his threats always came to nothing, even if she didn’t actually manage to keep her promise.
Emma smiled as her father put his arm around her and guided her down the large sweeping staircase into the huge reception area, where Thomas’ long-time friends and ex-serving staff John and Mary were waiting. They had been fortunate to find employment elsewhere, but they had stayed in touch with Thomas and Emma and were good friends to them. Emma loved them dearly. They lived nearby and would often come around and stand in as housekeeper and butler when the Bells were entertaining, giving the illusion that things at Windmere were not quite as bleak as they actually were. As Emma reached the bottom of the staircase, John answered the door to Horatio Hawk and her father stepped forward and welcomed him before introducing him to his daughter. Emma smiled. Despite his silly name, Horatio was actually a lot younger than most of the men her father had brought home and he was also very attractive. Emma admired his dark hair and his chiseled good looks and she blushed as he took her hand and kissed it gently, never taking his eyes away from hers.
Hmm, I think I could live with the silly name if he turns out to be as good as he looks, Emma thought, feeling very optimistic as he linked her arm and guided her behind her father into the dining room. Horatio was the perfect gentleman, pulling Emma’s seat out for her before sitting down beside her. Emma was very impressed with his impeccable manners and smiled warmly at her father. Maybe my luck with potential suitors is about to change for the better, Emma allowed herself to hope.
Emma, Horatio, and her father had a lovely meal. They were, as was always the case, well looked after by John and Mary. Emma vowed that if she ever got the Windmere estate back on its feet, she would repay John and Mary’s kindness somehow. Over dinner, Emma found that she really liked Horatio and listened intently as he talked about his business, exporting tea from India. He talked of his frequent visits to India and Emma’s face lit up with delight as she imagined accompanying him on his business trips.
“I would love to travel,” she told him excitedly. “It’s been my lifelong dream to go to America, but I’m sure India would be very interesting too. I’m assuming that as your wife I would be able to accompany you on your trips? Maybe we could visit America too, expand your business?” Emma asked excitedly.
Emma felt a familiar sinking feeling when Horatio scowled and shook his head. “That would be totally out of the question. I would expect you to stay at home and raise our children. I would not permit any wife of mine to travel. The idea is preposterous. What on earth are you thinking of, permitting your daughter to try to follow such foolish dreams?” Horatio said, turning to face her father.
Emma was outraged. How dare that obnoxious man question my father’s upbringing of me? My father is more of a man than this idiot will ever be, Emma thought angrily as she stood up abruptly, picking up the glass of water in front of her. Without a moment’s hesitation, Emma threw the contents of the glass over Horatio. She glared at him furiously as his mouth opened and closed, bringing to mind an ugly fish.
Emma was shocked at her own impulsive actions, but even more surprised when her father quickly appeared at her side, grasped her wrist and pulled her away from the table. “Apologize to Mr. Hawk immediately,” Thomas angrily demanded.
“I will not,” Emma fumed. “He’s a pompous idiot. I have no intention of having children until I’ve seen the world, and I certainly would not have children with such an overbearing…”
“Enough!” ordered her father, clearly outraged as he cut her tirade off mid-sentence. “Go to your room and wait for me, young lady. I’m appalled at your behavior. I’m going to teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget. Get out of my sight this instant, before you make me do something we’ll both regret.”
Emma was stunned. Her father had never spoken so harshly to her ever before. Glaring at Horatio Hawk, who she held entirely responsible, Emma turned on her heel and strode from the room before running up to her bedroom and throwing herself onto the bed, sobbing as her dreams were dashed once more. As she cried into her pillow, Emma wondered if there was a man out there who would satisfy both her own and her father’s needs. She was beginning to think such a man did not exist.
Meanwhile, Thomas showed his guest out, apologizing profusely for Emma’s bad behavior. “Forgive my daughter, Mr. Hawk. Her mother died of a fever almost two years ago and she has never got over losing her. She has such fanciful dreams of what she will do with her life and I can’t bear to burst her bubble. I keep hoping that a man will come along who will, for a brief time at least, pander to her whims. Hopefully then she will be ready to settle down and be a good wife and mother.”
Horatio Hawk nodded. “Goodnight Mr. Bell. Thank you for your hospitality, but I fear that unless you take your errant daughter in hand, you will never find her a suitable husband.”
Thomas Bell closed the door and sighed deeply as he walked slowly along the hallway and into his study. He opened his cupboard and lifted out the thin rattan cane he had had cause to use on his own wife on only a very few occasions during their 20-year marriage. He blinked away tears as he remembered how happy they had been and how even on those rare, sad occasions when he had believed it necessary to use the cane, she had accepted his discipline without argument. He shook his head as he put the cane back. He couldn’t bring himself to be so harsh with his daughter, but he reluctantly accepted that he needed to punish her this time. He could not keep making empty threats. She needed to grow up and accept the fact that her actions sometimes had consequences.
Going into his drawer, Thomas sighed deeply as he took out the stout leather strap with which he had striped his wife’s bare bottom many times over the years. Thomas headed out of his office, carrying the strap in his right hand. He walked slowly towards the stairs, feeling like a condemned man. He stopped to look at John and Mary, who both smiled at him and nodded in silent agreement towards the strap in his hand. Thomas made his way upstairs, pausing briefly before he knocked on his daughter’s bedroom door and stepped into her room. He was about to put the strap down and abandon any thoughts of physical chastisement when he saw his beloved daughter sobbing into her pillow, but he knew that he needed to prove to her that he would no longer tolerate her behavior. After approaching her bed and taking her gently but firmly by the wrist, he pulled her up onto her feet, sat himself down on the bed, and turned Emma quickly across his lap.
Emma squealed and kicked her legs. “No Daddy, release me this instant. You cannot do this to me. No!” she yelled.
Emma panicked as her father started to gather her skirts and raise them. Oh my God, no, you can’t do this to me! Emma thought, becoming flustered as she struggled in her desperate attempt to break free. She was horrified to feel her father’s hands on her split bloomers, pulling them apart to expose her bare buttocks. Emma blushed and renewed her struggles as she shrieked in shock. Please don’t, Emma silently pleaded, anything but this, as for the first time in her young life she felt a heavy leather strap laid against her bare bottom. Her father raised the strap in the air and Emma screamed as it cracked against her exposed flesh. She had never been spanked by either of her parents. The sting of parental discipline was totally alien to her and her tears started to flow immediately as the strap cracked down once more.
Emma howled and kicked her legs. “Please Daddy, don’t! It hurts so much. I’m sorry,” she whined.
Thomas’ grip around Emma’s waist tightened as the strap cracked down against her bottom again and again. He was determined to teach her the lesson she needed to learn. Emma howled in response to each smack. “Oh please Daddy, no more, please. I promise I’ll be good. I’ll marry the next man you bring home, I promise.”
At last Thomas laid the strap aside, and she sobbed quietly. She couldn’t believe her father had punished her, but at least it was over. Emma shrieked loudly when instead of releasing her, her father yanked her bloomers down completely. As she felt the material slide down her legs and drop to the floor, she kicked her legs harder and screamed loudly.
“If you’re going to act like a little girl, I’ll treat you accordingly,” her father shouted, before bringing his hand down on Emma’s upturned bare bottom. “Behave like a little child and I’ll spank you like one,” he lectured, as his large hand cracked down repeatedly on Emma’s already bright-red bottom cheeks. She kicked her legs frantically as she squirmed across her father’s lap, but she was dismayed that his firm hand continued to find its target.
When Emma was sobbing pitifully and had stopped struggling so much, Thomas picked up the strap again and cracked it down on her stinging bottom. Emma sobbed loudly and her feet drummed on the floor behind her as her father firmly strapped her bottom ten times.
“I promise you, young lady, if you ever dare to behave so badly in front of a guest in the future, I will not bring you to your room to punish you in private but instead I will bare your bottom and spank you in front of whoever’s there. Do you understand me?” he demanded, as he cracked the strap down once more across her burning buttocks.
Emma howled in agony. “Yes Daddy. Yes Daddy. No more. Please. I’m sorry. I’ll be a good girl. I promise.”
The strap cracked down one final time before Thomas threw it aside and rested his hand on his spoiled daughter’s crimson bottom. Emma blushed, thoroughly humiliated and in more pain than she could ever have imagined.
“Just make sure you are a good girl because I will not hesitate to do that again—and next time I will do a thorough job of it. That strapping was very mild, so bear that in mind if you consider misbehaving in the future.”
Emma’s eyes widened. It certainly hadn’t felt mild and she couldn’t imagine how it could have possibly been any more painful. She felt certain she would never sit down ever again. Her bottom was stinging so much.
Thomas pulled his daughter to her feet and stood her in front of him, grasping her firmly by one wrist as her other hand reached back to rub frantically at her burning bottom. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she glared accusingly at her normally tolerant father.
“I have had enough of your behavior, young lady. You have had that coming for a long time,” he scolded. Emma trembled as the tears continued to pour from her eyes. She had never seen her father so angry and she sobbed through humiliation and pain. “That punishment was very moderate compared to what you’ll get if your bad behavior continues. I promise you that next time I will take a cane to your bare bottom and you will find sitting down afterwards impossible. Do you understand me, young lady?”
Emma nodded and whimpered her apologies. She was so embarrassed. I’ll never forgive you for doing that to me, Emma thought bitterly. I’ll run away and then you’ll be sorry. Emma couldn’t imagine how badly a cane would hurt her bottom and she had no intention of ever finding out. “Emma, I love you so much,” Thomas said calmly, his tone changing once more to that of a loving father as he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her close to him. “I’m sorry I had to punish you, I really am, but I won’t hesitate to do it again if this bad behavior continues. I love you with all my heart, which is why I want the very best for you. We need to find you a good husband so you can make me proud and keep the Windmere estate in our family.”
Thomas released his daughter and kissed her gently on the forehead. His loving gesture caused Emma’s pitiful sobbing to increase. “Hush now,” her father comforted her. “It’s all over. Now I want you to get into bed and think about your bad behavior that ultimately caused you to end up in such an embarrassing position, laid across your Daddy’s lap having your bare bottom spanked and strapped hard like a naughty little girl.”
Emma blushed. She still could not believe her gentle, loving father had done something so humiliating and painful to her. She hoped John and Mary had gone home. It would be awful if they had heard her father spanking and strapping her bottom and her very vocal reaction to her punishment. She desperately hoped that Horatio Hawk had also left, though she was sure he had had no reason to hang around.
As her father finally released her, Emma turned away from him and threw herself onto the bed where she continued to sob loudly as she frantically rubbed her sore and reddened buttocks, no longer concerned about who could see or hear her.
Thomas reluctantly left his distraught daughter and went downstairs to join his friends John and Mary in the kitchen. Mary took his hand and smiled kindly at him. “You did the right thing, Thomas. She’s had that coming to her for a long time. She’s a good girl, but she needs some firm boundaries,” she told him.
Thomas nodded. “She hates me. I could see it in her eyes. She wouldn’t look at me. Will she ever forgive me?”
Mary smiled sympathetically. “Of course she will. She’s embarrassed. She’s feeling confused. She can’t believe that the father who has doted on her for years has done something so painful and humiliating to her. She’ll most likely be planning all sorts of revenge on you at the moment, but once the worst of the sting has gone and she reflects on her bad behavior that caused her to end up with a sore bottom, she will forgive you. She will eventually accept that her own actions caused this to happen and she deserved it. She loves you and she knows you love her too. She’s feeling sore and embarrassed right now, but in the morning I’m sure she’ll be much less angry.”
“You sound like you speak from experience,” said Thomas, with a slight smile.
Mary blushed and glanced at her husband, who took her hand and tenderly kissed it. Mary was very relieved when John quickly changed the subject.
“Thomas, it seems that more than anything, Emma wants desperately to travel. It’s rare to see her without a book in her hands about the American West. You have plenty of contacts in New York. Why not take Emma there? You know there are many very rich families in New York who would love nothing more than to have one of their sons marry an English lady and inherit land in England. Can you imagine how much social prestige that would bring to their family?” said John. “You could even take her for a visit out West while you’re there. I’m sure you would enjoy the experience too.”
Thomas nodded in agreement. Why had I never thought of that? This is the perfect solution to our problem, he mused.
“Thank you John. That’s a wonderful idea. I’ll tell Emma first thing in the morning. I’m tempted to go and tell her now, but I’d prefer to have her stew over her spanking and strapping for a while longer. I want to make absolutely certain that she heeds my warning as I never want to have to do that to her ever again. It broke my heart to have to cause her so much suffering.”
* * *
Emma finally stopped crying and got up from her bed and carefully undressed. She turned her back to her bedroom mirror and gasped when she saw the broad red stripes that decorated her buttocks. She put on her cotton nightdress, climbed into bed, lay on her tummy, and cried herself to sleep as she gently rubbed her aching buttocks.
I hate you, Daddy, she thought spitefully, as she clutched her buttocks and relived the humiliation of having her bottom bared and spanked. Her embarrassment escalated as she remembered her father completely removing her bloomers. Recalling how much she had struggled and kicked her legs as her father had spanked her soundly with his hand, Emma’s shame increased even further. Daddy, I can’t believe you did something so awful to me. I’ll never, ever, ever, ever forgive you.
But as Emma closed her eyes and she drifted off into a peaceful sleep, she thought about how much she loved her father. More than anything else, she desperately wanted him to hold her and tell her she was forgiven and reassure her that he still loved her as much as ever.