Pharsalia by Naomi Darvell

Yeah, another governess story. Oh well, guess I'm getting something out of my system. You strict schoolteachers out there, don't bother sending me mail to inform me that the true title of Lucan's demented book is "Bellum Civile." "Pharsalia" sounded prettier.

My first governess was an irritable, vindictive woman-- probably somewhat unbalanced, I now think. Whenever I did something to anger her she would grab me by the wrist and belabor my hand-- usually the left, my writing hand-- with whatever instrument was nearby: ruler, hairbrush, strap. Usually she started with my palm up, then turned my hand over and whacked me, even more painfully, over the knuckles. For the rest of the day I would feel humiliated; each of us would avoid the other's gaze. After that governess left (my parents found her annoying) I was presented with Miss E. This lovely woman, much younger than that harridan who had previously cared for me, excelled at teaching me literature and a number of languages. Things went extremely well. I never had to be punished for poor schoolwork, because I was so eager to please Miss E. She repaid my efforts by being sweet and demonstrative, often kissing my cheek or stroking my hair.

One evening I worked in the schoolroom as usual. Miss E. had gone out, as it seemed: anyway she did not come in, as she usually did, to see how I was. I found myself unable to make any progress with my Latin translation. Miss E. had put a marker in a book entitled "Pharsalia.' I had never heard of this book, and when I opened it you would have thought I was wearing glasses covered with butter, or that I was holding the book upside down. I could make no sense of it whatever-- and I had for years been quite good at Latin, despite poor teaching by my first governess. I sat there peering at the page, with a heavy feeling in my belly, for over an hour, but it got no better. Finally, my heart racing and my throat constricted, I crept along the hall to my father's library. It took forever, and I jumped each time I heard a noise in the hall, but finally I located the Loeb edition of Lucan's "Pharsalia." I shoved the book under my arm and stole back along the corridor.

The archaic English version was almost as difficult to read as the Latin had been, but at last I translated it into something I might have written. Looking back at the Latin, I faked a few errors that I thought looked convincing enough.

"You poor thing," said Miss E. the next morning, when it came time for the Latin lesson. I gave you the wrong book. I've been trying to read the Pharsalia, and it's impossible. I meant to give you Livy. Well, what's this?"

She gave me a worried look: it was all over my face. "Miss E., I'm so sorry," I said. I handed over the phony translation. "I'm sorry; I wanted so badly to do well."

Mercifully, Miss E. understood without my having to be explicit. She looked dreadfully chagrined. "This is the most unfortunate situation," she said. "I'm responsible for the dilemma you faced. Yet you've done something completely wrong."

"Oh I know I have," I said. "I know I need to be punished." I held out my hand-- the left one, for good measure.

"Your hand?" she asked, looking horrified. "No, indeed. I am going to have to spank your bottom."

This news threw me into a panic. As much as I had hated being punished on the hands, my modesty cringed at the thought of having to profer my bottom-- my bare bottom?-- for a spanking-- with what? The ruler; the hairbrush? Surely not Miss E.'s bare hand. I wanted very much to be punished, but not like that.

"Please," I said. "Whip me on both hands. Or... or slap my face or something. Just not.... there!"

"Dear child! Who gave you ideas like that? Has someone been hitting your hands or your face?" She looked at me very sympathetically. "Look here," she said. "A spanking is nothing to be ashamed of. No one will know about it, apart from the two of us. Madeleine, I was often spanked as a child. It certainly felt bad, and I was indeed angry with my governess for doing it. But it was not demeaning, like being slapped in the face. I honestly believe that if anyone had done that to me, I would have.... killed that person."

I was shocked to hear Miss E. confess such a vehement emotion. Then I supposed that if she was willing to be so honest with me, I would have to trust her. I lowered my eyes and nodded. Taking this as a signal, Miss E. went to the closet and took out a leather paddle. She must have brought the thing with her when she came to work in our house. Pulling a chair out from the table, she sat down on it and patted her knee. I walked over to her shyly. "Lift your skirt and bend over," she said. Once I was settled she ran a meditative hand over the seat of my knickers. "These are nice and thin," she said. "We can leave them up." I praised the Lord for that at least; even as it was, the sensation of my tummy and thighs pressing against her lap was acutely embarrassing. "Relax," she said. "It will hurt much more if you are tense. Take a deep breath now, and let it out slowly. This is going to be a good hard spanking. While your bottom is hurting, I want you to think about how naughty you have been."

She began spanking hard and fast. Almost at once my bottom felt as if a thin flame was playing all over its surface. "Pharsalia, Pharsalia, Pharsalia," I said to myself. Miss E."s paddle was a big paddle; it struck both my bottom-cheeks at once. As soon as the burning started it was odd: the individual spanks hurt not at all, except that I suppose they kept the burning going. The spanking continued until I was limp and exhausted. "Good girl," Miss E. said, and patted my bottom. I took this gesture as an indication that I should stand up, and I did so, my hands involuntarily going back to rub my battered flesh. I did not cry, however; I did not feel like crying at all. It was such a relief to have located my terrible naughtiness in my bottom, and to have had that naughtiness beaten out of me. Miss E.'s arms went around me, and she pulled me onto her lap. The hug she gave me went a long way towards healing the pain I felt-- almost a physical pain, in my chest-- over my own bad behavior. 'Please hug me harder," I said shyly, and Miss E. obliged.

"Please", I added, "Spank me again when I deserve it."

"I don't think you'll deserve it very often," she said., and kissed me.

I worked for the rest of the day with my hot, sore behind settled uncomfortably on the hard oak chair. Miss E. offered me a pillow, but I declined: I enjoyed the soreness; it reminded me that I had paid for my misbehavior and was now a good girl once more. Welcome as the spanking was in its immediate effects, it caused a dilemma. After a few days I found myself longing to be spanked again. Not to be naughty, or to be punished, but to lie across Miss E.'s lap and hear the crack of the leather against my buttocks and feel the stinging and throbbing. Most of all, I wanted to melt into her arms again. I recalled the entire drama and all the sensation with increasing desire. I wanted to provoke a spanking, but to displease Miss E. deliberately would break my heart. In order to talk at least about spanking I asked Miss E., "Did you spank the other girls you've taught?"

"Yes," she said, and some of them pretty often. But why do you bring that up now?" This comment served only to make me jealous of those naughty girls who got spanked often.

At last, unable to resist the temptation, I started out one morning responding to everything Miss E. said in a mulish and insolent way. Once Latin started I translated every verb as if it were a participle: a mistake far below my level of experience. Miss E. resolutely ignored this nonsense. I grew more and more quarrelsome and evil, again without effect. That evening we had dinner together. "You're not eating," Miss E. said. With my former governess I had been known to use this childish means of getting attention: my parents worried about my small size and pressured the governess to make me eat. I had never played this stupid trick on Miss E. before. naturally she remained calm; at last, in despair, I cursed a few times. That had to be a spanking offense.

"Go to the schoolroom," Miss E. said. "I'm tired of looking at you."

Now, this was a really terrible punishment. I went sadly off by myself and sat at the work-table, trying to read but always on the verge of tears. At one point I fetched the paddle from the closet and put it on the table. When Miss E. came in I pulled a chair out for her.

"No, I'm not going to spank you," she said. "I can't be drawn into a situation of spanking you all the time for childish little provocations like that. I suppose that spanking is a novelty for you now; but, believe me, after a few more treatments with the paddle-- or God forbid the birch-- you won't be so eager to try it out again."

I was disappointed, though in another way it was a relief to see that Miss E. was above my primitive manipulations-- another reason to trust her. But then in fact she weakened a little and said: "All right, I'll give you a love-spanking. Get ready for bed and I'll come in after a while."

"Love-spankings" became my farvorite thing in the world. Well, of course they would. Every night I lay in bad with a sense of delicious anticipation. Miss E. always come in to kiss me good night; but if I was lucky, she would also pull down the covers, roll me over and slap my bottom: sometimes just a few slaps; on other occisaions for several minutes, while she scolded me harmlessly. I went on enjoying these playful spankings, even after I had ceased to desire the real thing. (That change occurred after one regrettable incident in which I had to have my knickers removed and my bottom and thighs flogged with switches while the maid held me down and I screamed.)

I do not know if Miss E. invented "love-spanking" for me-- I was too shy to ask-- but she spoke as if it were a common idea. The first time I made love to a woman, then, in college, I thought nothing of saying, "I need a love-spanking." "What an adorable idea!" my lover said. "Turn over." She spanked my bottom hard, first with her hand, then with the hairbrush. As our relationship progressed we spanked each other often, and it was the best of both worlds: the hard, dramatic whacks of a "real" spanking, plus the love. I always looked back with gratitude to Miss E., who made all that pleasure possible.