Correlative Encouragement

October 24, 1896
Margaret Spooner

I trembled just looking at his angry face. The barely controlled rage would soon be unleashed upon me. I looked for a place to run, failing that I wished to hide, but there was no place for me. He grabbed the bare flesh of my arm and squeezed it to the bone. I cried out in pain and fear.

A moment later I was facing the floor laying over his lap. His powerful arms keeping me still despite the adrenaline running through my veins and my futile attempts to struggle free. He raised a doubled over belt high in the air and slapped it down on the exposed flesh of my buttocks. I screamed at the burning pain but to no effect. He repeated the beating over and over until all I felt was broken and bruised. I hung my head low and cried for the shame of it.

When it was over I sobbed apologies I did not mean and pretended regret. All I felt was shame and anger. The physical wounds will heal in time but the scars are deeper than the flesh. How will I face him again without flushing red?

“Get dressed.” Edgar ordered.

I felt small and childish waiting for permission to cover myself and then smaller still as I scrambled to dress at his command. What happened to the nice young man I fell in love with last year?

He stalked from the room opening the door to the hallway outside without any consideration for my modesty. I shuddered expecting a barrage of laughter from beyond the four walls of my torment, but there was only the echo of Edgar’s boots on the floor.

A few moments later the door opened again and Mrs. Carrington entered. She smiled sympathetically at me. I wished to return the smile but her sympathy only drowned me further in shame. Tears fell anew from my eyes and I began the uncontrollable sobs of deep emotional pain. She held me to her and offered comfort in small pats and gently rubbing on my back.

When at last the sobs subsided and I was once again in control I hugged her tightly one last moment and then pulled away. She offered me a tissue for my face which I took without hesitation. I blushed under her gaze even though I knew she understood. Embarrassment does not give way for mere understanding.

Presentable, I walked from the room pretending nothing had happened. I smiled at Edgar at the end of the hall and took his proffered arm. Side by side we walked out the front door and down the steps to his waiting carriage. He guided me into it without a word.

As it started off down the street there was only the sounds of hoofs and wheels on gravel. I wanted to flee his company but the consequences were more than I could manage. I shifted uncomfortable in my seat, more from awkwardness than pain but both were present.

“I’m sorry I had to do that, Maggie.” He said.

His eyes were like those of a lost puppy dog. My angry heart melted despite myself.

“I’m sorry too.” I said.

The words held as little meaning as they did before but they sounded of sincerity.

“You understand I cannot have my future wife cavorting with an underground feminist movement.”

He held the note up he had found in my room. How he knew what it was and who it was from when I did not, baffled me. All things considered, I am more likely to find my way there now than I was before. If Edgar knew the effect he had on me, would he do things differently?

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