In my corner I think of my lovely shoes. A delicious hour. A delightful dance. The humiliation of the pedestal. The evening ends pleasantly. Almost contented to remain a girl.
It was nine o'clock when I was first placed in the corner. The clock struck ten as Miss Priscilla stood to observe me there, lifting up my chin, drawing back my shoulders, adjusting my feet, turning out my toes as much as my ankle strap allowed her to do.
"Now will you continue to stand quietly dear? "she asked.
"Yes Miss Priscilla," I said humbly, weeping a bit at my humiliating position.
"That's right, Denise. You can't imagine how delicious you look standing here tied up in your smart clothes. Now remember Helen's advice. You are to think of your rounded insteps in their nylon sockings, your little feet in their lovely slippers with the gossamer bows, the flashing buckles, the extravagantly high-heels, peeping out from a hem of white satin. Think how you have been punished in them."
I wriggled my knees.
"Ah you are thinking of the dainty slippered feet," she said with a smile.
That was her policy--a double one. To punish me into abject subjection and then to make me love and crave for punishment by associating with it in my mind voluptuous images which provoked my passions, and by flattering my girlish vanity with enervating, effeminizing soft words. And she was succeeding. I obeyed her.
"How has Denise behaved Auntie?" asked Helen.
"She was troublesome at first. She would talk. But for the last hour she has been standing very prettily in her corner without a word."
Helen came over to me.
"Have you been thinking of what I told you darling?"
"Yes Helen," I replied blushing more than ever.
Oh how determined those two women were under all their loving terms and dainty endearments to corrupt and make me of no account in their sinister way.
"Then I will set you free as a reward." She did so and added. "Now go to the ball-room and dance and enjoy yourself."
I was delighted.
"But mind darling that you only dance with girls," she said with a warning nod, and she explained to Lady Hartley: "That is part of Denise's punishment."
I was delighted to have an excuse not to dance with men, even as humiliating an excuse as this was. I went into the ball-room which led out on the other side of the big drawing-room. It was a beautiful room with a perfect floor. There were a good many people whom Helen had brought up from the village; luckily more girls than men, so that I had
a still better excuse. I was able to say that as I was staying in the house, it was my duty to see that the visitors had partners. I danced with Violet, and Miss Hartley, and other girls--and I loved it. I had been beautifully taught and I knew that I danced very well. Violet too, was a good dancer. Oh to swing round in a waltz with her to the sound of languorous music, our little slippers flashing in and out, weaving and interweaving the steps yet never touching--it was delicious. At midnight we all went into the dining-room to supper, and were as merry as we could be. Oh how sorry I was when the guests began to go. Miss Priscilla took me aside. She bad a new pair of long white gloves in her hand.
"You must have these put on Denise. You have soiled those you are wearing." She smoothed them over my arms, and buttoned them.
"Have you also soiled your slippers?"
"No, Miss Priscilla. The ball-room floor is as clean as a new tablecloth."
"Let me see!" I swept my gown aside and showed her my feet. "Yes, you need not change them," she said.
I had forgotten all about my punishment. I saw Helen speaking to guests as the staff escorted them back into the dining room, which had been set up as some sort of auditorium; I assumed Helen had planned some kind of entertainment to conclude the evening. I wondered whether she had not forgotten the punishment too. I thought that if I could slip by up to my room, I might escape altogether. I tried to, but Helen saw me between the heads of some girls she was shaking hands with and cried out pleasantly:
"You mustn't go yet, Denise dear."
She continued speaking to her girl friends but introduced into her chatter, in order to punish me for trying to escape, humiliating orders which I had to obey before them all. Her words ran like this:
"Have a seat Dora... Come and stand beside me Denise--Will you take a seat in the first row, Iris?--not like that Denise, but with your face to the wall of course and your hands behind your back. Phoebe, escort Mrs. Rivers to the left side of the room, please. Are the heels of your dancing slippers neatly together, Denise?"
All went at last. Helen took me by the hand. "Come with me," she said. There were only Lady Hartley and Miss Priscilla, and Lady Hartley's daughter left in the drawing-room. She touched a spring in the wall and a panel slid aside, showing another room of which I had not guessed the existence. The house had been greatly altered during the years of my absence.
"This Denise," said Helen with a smile of anticipation, "is the punishment room."
Lady Hartley turned to her daughter. "Wait here Phyllis," she said. She followed Helen, Miss Priscilla, and myself into the punishment room. It was a small room, prettily furnished with a bright fire glowing on the hearth. Helen closed the panel as soon as we had entered and at once it appeared that the room had no door to it. It was furnished in mahogany and white satin. On the floor a thick carpet covered with white glace-kid made luxurious walking. The walls were all thickly padded with white satin and the light was only admitted through a skylight over which at this moment heavy curtains of white velvet were drawn. Of the designation of the room at a first glance no one would have guessed. At a second, one would have noticed some sinister particulars. Across the ceiling a grooved gilt wheel ran on a strong rail and from the groove of the wheel, a thick strong gold rope depended. The wheel was worked by a small lever in the wall and at this moment was in a corner of the ceiling with the rope tied to a hook. On the ottomans and chairs I noticed a gleam of steel rings and bars, and one long flat sofa was furnished at the end with a pair of stocks. There were cases with glass-doors fixed against the walls and glancing into one, I saw handcuffs and fetters and irons of all kinds in polished steel. I was afraid. But what most terrified me was a pedestal in the center of the room, its top some ten inches above the floor, with a small step beside it by which one could reach to stand upon the raised surface. There was nothing sinister about it, yet its aspect appalled me.
Helen stood beside it and said, "Come here, dear." I complied. The three of them stripped me roughly of my gown and all my garments save for my corset, my nylons, my gloves and my slippers. Helen raised her hand before my face, to make me gaze again at the remarkable star sapphire.
I found myself absorbed by its beauty and soon discovered I had lost all interest in defying my step-sister. Her voice became warm and compelling; I could no longer resist her commands.
Helen motioned to Miss Priscilla, who pressed a button hidden on the far wall that I faced. That wall slid apart, revealing the guests assembled in the dining room, who gasped, snickered and then applauded as my half-naked, corsetted, girlish form appeared before them.
The lights in both rooms dimmed, and only a spotlight illuminated my pedestal. I was completely on display.
Helen's voice came from the dakrness. "Denise, caress your lovely breasts." Seemingly of their own volition--certainly I had not desired it--my hands moved to my rounded bosom, lifting it in tribute to the unseen audience. The feel of my satin gloves on my soft flesh was delicious.
When she felt her friends had seen enough of my adoration of my own breasts, Helen spoke again: "Denise, toy with your legs and feet." I stooped slightly, as my hands ran their way down my thighs and calves, tickling my ankles and insteps. I shuddered as my arousal at this touch to my secret longings.
"What a delightful punishment for a pretty girl!" Lady Hartley cried. "To expose before her friends and acquaintances in society and have her make love to her own body! I think you are wonderfully clever, Miss Deverel."
Helen smiled in acknowledgment of the praise.
"It is at all events an appropriate punishment," she answered modestly. "Denise is being punished for her vanity in making a coquettish display of her little buckled slippers and dainty feet. How better to teach her not to be vain than to use her vanity against her!"
She turned to me. "You may move and speak, Denise."
My emotions burst from me. "Oh Helen! Please set me free!" I moaned. "It's a horrible punishment."
The tears poured down my face. My slipper-buckles flashed and mashed in a thousand many coloured rays as I arched and bent my feet to uncramp my muscles from long moments of standing still.
And then I fainted.
Miss Priscilla closed the wall to the dining room, while Helen and Lady Hartley bid thr rest of the guests goodbye. I revived, still sobbing, when Helen returned.
She was by this time a little alarmed. She brought me a large glass of champagne saying, "I did not realize how completely soft and girlish you had become, dear."
"But you meant me to become soft and girlish," I said between my sobs. "You and Miss Priscilla sent me to a girls' school for two years and knew the system applied to me."
"Oh yes, darling," said Helen patting my bare shoulders affectionately. "Of course, we meant to punish you by giving you permanently the figure, the pretty breasts, and the lovely face of a girl and to please ourselves by dressing you in exquisite clothes suitable to your looks. We used subtle hypnosis and psychological conditioning to make you more compliant with our wishes. But we did not hope that the system would be so delightfully successful as it has been in changing your haughty spirit into a girl's timid and shrinking disposition. I promise you we will not humiliate you in this way again without due cause."
"Thank you Helen," I said gratefully. Even at the time I remarked a strange and significant change in me. I was not angry and resentful because she had punished me and thrown me into hysterics. I seemed to recognize that she had the right to do what she pleased with me.
"I am very tired," I said. "I will go to bed."
"Before you go to bed Denise," said Miss Priscilla calmly, "you will have to have a long conversation with me in my boudoir."
"Oh please not tonight! I am exhausted."
Miss Priscilla was implacable.
"Tomorrow you are to be dressed as a young gentleman again. It is necessary that our conversation should take place while you are still wearing your girl's clothes."
I was worn out by the punishments and experiences of the day.
"Then I will wear girl's clothes for one more day," I said.
"Really dear, it is not for you to make bargains with us. If you wear girls' clothes tomorrow to please yourself, you will wear them as long as I choose to please me."
I blushed, Helen rippled over with delight.
"Darling we'll make you happy," she cried and she kissed me. "Even tonight you shall begin to realize the privileges and liberty of a pretty young lady. You shall have a book to read in bed and may have a midnight snack before you turn out the light."
Phoebe took me upstairs, undressed and bathed me, put on a lace-embroidered night-gown of pink satin and tucked me up in bed. On a little table by the bed she placed a glass of lemonade and some biscuits, and my novel.
She left me in my luxurious bed to myself. What a delicious change it was from the hard mattresses and strict discipline of the girls' school! I ate my snack and read my novel. Oh it wasn't such bad fun being a young lady after all.
TO BE CONTINUED