A Winter’s Tale V

04Sep14

corner timePart I

The winter got very much worse before it got better and by the end of January their food supplies were low and they were left with only the grimmest fare. It was a situation that did little to aid the humour of Sofia or Ivan and within the confines of the small house short sharp words left their mouths at the least provocation. As it was barely a week would pass without a confrontation and the diminutive princess would frequently find herself stood bare bottomed in the corner following the soundest of spankings.

Not that she resented such treatment, not once Ivan’s anger had passed anyway, as such rough handling tended to clear the air and even Sofia could not remember who had been in the right after the fact.

But on other occasions there was no doubt and the spoilt noblewoman of old would reassert herself to give in to rages about the food or the lack of home comforts. At these times Ivan would sigh heavily and take up a rod from the corner before beckoning to his winter guest with one stern finger.

“Oh come on, please Ivan I’m sorry,” she would wail as she backed away as far as the small room would allow.

But once the woodsman’s mind was made up all protests were futile.

If she were feeling brave and repentant then she would dip her gaze and meekly lower her breeches before bending across the table to present her bare bottom. The fiery bite of his lambasting rod was bad enough on such occasions and afterwards she could not sit down for days. But at other times she would refuse his correction and strike out at him with her small fists and call him a beast.

Then he would spank her soundly until she wept and then set her in the corner until she was ready to ask for her true punishment. This would follow with a will until she wailed and begged as she was truly mastered with a kiss to the rod. Then her raw buttocks would throb like hot coals in the corner again and she would rue the day that they had ever met.

But such emotions did not cling to her long and despite the fact that she was often left unable to sit until he had cause to spank her again, she could not truly blame him or hold a grudge.

So the days passed, each one a little longer, and as the long winter shadows shortened, each one became a little warmer. If Sofia had not been so distracted by the other heat in her bottom she might have noticed this change and perhaps regret it.

*

One day Ivan returned from one of his increasingly frequent sorties with a huge stag across both shoulders. Even Sofia could see that outside there were green shoots were breaking from the snow and finally she sensed a change in the air.

As Ivan stood framed by the doorway he seemed to regard her with something like sadness and Sofia gripped her throat as if it were her heart. The space between them was no more than 10 feet but suddenly it felt like a thousand miles.

Then Ivan shook himself and tossed the carcass onto the table and turned away. Nor did he meet her eyes as he said, “March is upon us so in a week or two, I think we can set off for Molotov lands.”

Sofia felt as if she had been struck. For weeks it had been all she had thought of, well almost all she had thought of, but now… home? She swallowed hard as if choking something down. The castle that had once seemed so large now shrank in her memory. She thought of high confining walls and the guarded gates. She thought of the narrow rules and the even narrower path that her life would now follow.

“Aren’t you happy?” Ivan asked in an even voice.

Sofia blinked hard and shook herself to a forced smile.

“Of course,” she said, but her words carried little conviction.

Ivan gave a small grunt like a bear and turned away. It was for the best, he thought, of course it was.

As it was the snow retreated almost as fast as the days that remained and when at last Ivan gathered some food and belongings for the journey the grass was more abundant than the ice and fierce buds covered every branch. Here and there even the first spring flowers forced their way from the hard ground as they stretched for the sky like yawning men awaking from a long sleep.

“It is a long walk without a fast pony and it will take most of a week to get to Castle Molotov,” Ivan told her, “But we will make good time now.”

Sofia nodded. Somehow she was happy that there were no horses and she thought of her rapid escape. Such reckless racing seemed so immature now.

“I have the last of the nuts and some dried venison,” he told her for something to say. “And we may find some game along the way.”

Sofia gave him a tight smile and a single nod.

“But we could…” he thought of fishing in the pool. It would be good eating and might delay their departure for several days, but it was a pointless agony. So instead he said, “Never mind, we will leave tomorrow.

*

They did indeed make good time and for a while it was if the world belonged to them. After weeks in the small shack the forest was coming alive with birdsong and dancing squirrels that darted hither and thither among the stout trees. Even Ivan’s mood was lifted and he would often stop to identify the chirping cheep of this bird or that or point out bear tracks on the damp ground.

On all sides of the path the cathedral-like woods stretched out under the wild green roof in a tapestry of light where dark pines stood with the birch in its new spring coat. Even when Ivan had got ahead of her, he was an ever present guardian relentlessly placing one certain foot before the other. The forest was wild but no wolf or bear would trouble her while she had such a man.

“I could live here forever,” Sofia breathed.

“What was that?” Ivan called back.

“I said the woods go on forever,” she replied.

“From the Urals to Siberia,” he answered, “We are a long way from Peter neh?

“I have never been,” she whispered with true regret.

“Bah, one day some young man will take you there,” Ivan snarled patting the air dismissively with one arm as he strode ahead.

But all she could think was that St Petersburg could not be as beautiful as this place here and now.

By the time they broke for the night Sofia had legs like lead. The endless tranquillity of the trees had long since surrendered their charms and she fell onto the blanket Ivan had set on the ground like timber felled.

“Missing your horse now I’ll bet,” Ivan chuckled.

But Sofia was already asleep and it was an hour before Ivan roused her with some food and a small fire. But it was a short reprieve from her slumber and by the time it was full dark Sofia again surrendered to her dreams.

*

On the afternoon of the fourth day they reach some high ground where the snow had not yet melted and the dense forest gave way to more open rocky ground that afforded the couple glimpses of far mountains and cultivated land beyond the valley. Here the slope was gentle and seemed to end at a granite ridge just ahead of them. Not that they were completely out of the woods. To the right and behind of them was a fence of denuded silver birch trees, their white paper trunks forming a haphazard border to the deeper timberland they had just travelled through.

“I know this place,” Sofia gasped.

Ivan frowned and waited for more but the tired princess was still.

Sofia was vaguely aware that she must have ridden this way at some time and the aspect of the hills looked rather like those viewed from her room at Castle Molotov. She was still pondering this idea when they gained the ridge. There across the sunlit valley like a fist of stone stood her father’s fortress. The curved walls and onion domes glowed in the dying spring sunshine like a glimpse of heaven in the wilderness so that her heart leapt and she could scarce draw a breath.

“I’m… I’m home,” she said wistfully.

“Yes,” Ivan growled.

“Oh shit,” Sofia said suddenly.

Ivan rounded on her with half an eye to the forest and raised one quizzical eyebrow.

“I just remembered,” she said ruefully, “I am in so much trouble.”

As she spoke her hand made an unconscious move to her behind. But this only drew a chuckle from the bear-like woodsman who merely muttered, “I bet you are,” he said with amusement.

*

At first her father had been pleased to see her. He had wept as he swept her into his arms.

“Where did you find her?” at last the Prince demanded of Ivan.

Ivan shrugged. “The forest, where else?” he said.

“And she has been with you this whole time?” the prince demanded suspiciously.

“Where was I to take her, to the Kelch perhaps, or the Kern?” Ivan shrugged again.

“Father Ivan has been…” Sofia began.

“Be silent girl,” her father roared.

The Prince eyed Ivan Ivanov carefully but the woodsman did not blink. He stood like a rock not quite meeting the nobleman’s eye but not quite avoiding his gaze either. He stood like one who had rendered service and now expected reward.

“You are a free man?” Prince Molotov asked him.

“I am by my lights, but Count Kern may have a different view,” Ivan said gruffly.

The Prince nodded and weighed this up. “I am not one to listen to such a bastard,” he said, “and you have done me a great service here. For that I am grateful, although through her reckless actions my daughter’s reputation is shot. But I see you are an honest man and I bear you no grudge for your part. I have good kulak lands south and east of here. It is rich bottom land in need of restoration. It is yours together with 100 roubles and three years free of tax. Make it pay and I will grant you the rank of rystar with legal tenure over the serfs there. Treat them well and they will serve you in kind.”

Sofia gaped and then grinned widely.

“Thank you my prince,” Ivan bowed.

It was a great reward but somehow it seemed a hollow one. He bowed again and backed away.

“As for you my girl, you have a reward of another kind coming,” Prince Molotov rasped angrily, “Go to your room until I decide what to do with you.”

Sofia blanched but offered him a deep curtsey and hurried away. If she hoped to see Ivan she was thwarted. No sooner had she slipped away than her old governess stepped forward and took her by the arm.

“Come with me you foolish girl,” the rather severe dark-clad woman barked.

Sofia bristled at being so handled, but Baroness Moskova’s sharp visage and scraped back hair silenced any protests.

“You won’t sit down for a year by the time your father finishes with you and if you resist I will thrash your backside raw before Prince Molotov even lays his first stroke,” the Baroness hissed.

Sofia drew herself up proudly but seeing no hope she snatched away her hand and imperious walked to the staircase that led to her room.

“If you are lucky your father will find a poor baron to marry you to, the very idea, running away like that,” Moskova said with more sadness than anger.

Sofia rounded on her at the very suggestion, but what did it matter if she married prince or duke, baron or pauper, none of them would be Ivan? There, she had said it, if only in her heart.

“Go to your room,” the baroness barked.

Tears pooling at her eyes Sofia nodded and did as she was told.

*

Sofia stood with her hands clamped to the back of her neck and her elbows at right angles. Her nose was so close to where the two walls met at the corner of the room that she was effectively blinkered. Her bottom had been left bare and facing the room, but it was the light chill and not fear that left her shivering.

The night before the maids had come to bathe her more thoroughly than she had ever been bathed before and every inch of her skin had tingled from their ministrations. Then after a crude repast she had slept the sleep of ages until the strong spring sun had stirred her from lonely dreams.

It was not until Baroness Moskova had come to supervise her morning toilet and dressing had Sofia got a first hint of her fate. For one thing she had been permitted only a high cut corset and stockings to dress in and for another not one of the maids had giggled when she had been sentenced to the corner. Her father must still be furious then, she thought.

It was a shameful and uncomfortable predicament but with the door left wide and the constant sound of footsteps out in the hall Sofia dared not move or even risk a quick glance over her shoulder. So an age passed before anyone came to her directly.

“Sofia, turn around,” her father’s voice was a sudden shock as she had not known he was there.

The blood rushed to her face and she gulped hard before obeying, even then she quickly covered her front with both cupped hands as she did so. She needn’t have bothered just then as her father stood facing the window with his back to her and it was the Baroness who watched her hawk-like from by the door.

But Sofia could not miss the multi-tailed short whip grasped at her father’s back nor the copper bucket of birch rods at the baroness’s feet. She gulped and averted her gaze. For the first time since sneaking off she actually felt sorry for her sins.

“Father I…” she began.

“Be quiet Sofia,” the Prince barked.

She could only nod at the solid wall of her father’s back.

“Before I thrash you I want you to know that I am so disappointed in you. Your behaviour is…” he sighed and bowed his head before straightening again. “Well what is done is done,” he sighed, “I have arranged a marriage for you. A certain count… anyway, he is loyal and the best you can expect under the circumstances.”

“But…” Sofia began.

“Be silent,” the Prince barked. “News of your disappearance has even reached St Petersburg, your reputation…”

For one vital moment Sofia thought her father would cry but then steel returned to his voice.

“Sofia, get on your knees on the bed and present your bottom,” he said at last.

Sofia swallowed hard but nodded. She shot a glance at the baroness for any sign of satisfaction, but saw nothing but grim duty written on her face.

“Yes Sir,” she said.

The nerves that clawed at her belly were worse than the embarrassment now and she dipped her head as if making herself small. Still her father did not look at her, but whether this was out of respect for her partial nudity or from disgust Sofia could not tell.

The bed creaked as she mounted it and hastily she pressed her legs protectively together as she kowtowed to the headboard. She hadn’t even considered that this elevated her bottom so and in her haste to hide her face in the bed pane she had obeyed her father so perfectly.

When he finally turned and saw his humbled daughter he grunted in some non-committal way as he took some small pride at least in her obedience. Damn the girl, why had she been so wilful? But at least… something welled up and took him by surprise and in a rush all the nightmares that had assailed him that winter filled his head to the point of nausea.

“I thought you were…” the word held and he could not speak it as tears filled his eyes.

The baroness chose the moment to take an unwavering interest in the floor while keeping her face blank.

“Damn you girl,” the Prince roared and falling upon his daughter he hauled from her knees and across his lap.

In half a minute his hard leather hands blasted Sofia’s bottom with a hundred hearty spanks as he poured out his rage and relief.

“Damn you,” he spat, choking back a sob.

“I’m sorry Daddy, I’m sorry,” Sofia wailed and hugged into her father as of old.

“Do not think… do not think…” he repeated unable to complete the threat as he lambasted her, “do you know what you did? Do you know?”

But he let his hand do the talking and the spanking lasted perhaps 15 minutes until the Prince finally wavered. By then Sofia’s bottom was sunset red and she was sobbing gently into the space between the back of her father’s shins and the smooth wood of the bed.

“Oh Sofia,” Sofia’s father sighed giving her an affectionate squeeze. “I had such… the Tsar’s son perhaps… oh well this count is not so old and poor…”

“My lord… shall I…?” the baroness’s interjection was to ask if she should go and she pointed to the rods in the bucket by way of asking if she should take them.

“Would you?” Prince Molotov sighed, “My heart is not in it.”

But before the baroness could leave the weary man said casually, “thrash her well for it is needful.”

Sofia was not surprised by the command, for once she knew she well-deserved it and at the back of her head a braver version of her knelt and begged to be soundly thrashed beyond all endurance. But with still undried tears from the spanking and a persistent sting in her bottom such requests would remain unspoken and it was all she could do not to beg for mercy.

As soon as Prince Molotov had gone Baroness Moskova ordered Sofia to take up the position on the bed again and Sofia meekly nodded. Then with her bottom high in the air Sofia’s governess took up the first rod and stood poised behind her exposed bare bottom.

“Sofia attend,” she said sternly, an old custom between them at such times.

Then the rod swept down like fire and where once Sofia would have glared angrily in silence she now responded with a grunt of distress into her pillow.

No pride now, have you? Baroness Moskova thought, a small pleasure for her after years of prideful defiance from the girl. Then she eyed the bucket still full of bitter rods. The Prince had not countermanded his earlier order and the governess saw no reason to go easy as she struck the sore up-struck bottom again. There were a great many rods and the baroness intended to use them all.

To be continued.



2 Responses to “A Winter’s Tale V”

  1. Yay! You haven’t forgotten this story!! I can’t wait to see how it continues. Sofia’s father obviously loves her and with her reputation ruined… perhaps she and Ivan can be together after all?

  2. 2 DJ

    well who knows 😉


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