Life is tough in post Civil War Richmond for Meredith and Hilary Mason, two young women left orphaned by the War with little money and few prospects. Some land purchased by the father in Colorado Territory prior to the War is just about their only remaining asset, but they have no funds to travel to their property.
When they see an ad for a mail order bride in the area near their father’s land, Meredith accepts the offer, and the two sisters travel westward. Widower Will Svenson is rather shocked when his mail order bride shows up with both a sister and a freed slave in tow, but he takes it in stride.
What Will will not take in stride is defiance, and while his new bride, Meredith is – mostly – compliant, Hilary’s one objective is to reach their father’s land and she’s not taking no for an answer, either from Will or from Will’s younger brother Jesse. Unfortunately, for the two sisters, both Will and Jesse know how to handle the sassy sisters, and this involves… bloomers down!
“Bloomers Down” is a fun, quick romantic read featuring spicy erotic elements and the romantic spanking of adult women. It was originally published on the internet website Bethany’s Woodshed as “Mail Order Spankings.”
Colorado Territory – September 1870
William Svenson took the wrapped packages from the storekeeper, Jake Boozer, and smiled his thanks. "How’s things with the new missus?" Jake asked politely as he opened his ledger to make an entry.
"Going well, Jake. Going well. ‘Course, Meredith’s a Virginia girl, and raised in that fancy house, well, she’s had a few things to learn about being a farm wife. But we’re coming along fine."
It was not, Will reflected, a falsehood at all. He and his mail-order bride of six weeks were getting along as well as could be expected. She took her daily responsibilities seriously, she genuinely liked Jeremy and Sally, Will’s two children from his first marriage, she was very pretty, and slowly, but surely, he was teaching her that what happened between two married people after the lights went out was neither evil nor disgusting. She tried to hide it, but he knew how wet she was getting for him and how hard she tried to muffle the little cries… Will cleared his throat and tried to change his train of thought; it would not do to get rock-hard in the mercantile.
"What about the missus’ sister? Didn’t expect no package deal, did ya?" The storekeeper cackled out his mirth, and Will nodded at Jake balefully. There was no use hiding it. Everyone in town knew that when Jake’s mail-order bride had arrived, a younger sister and an old Mammy had unexpectedly been on the train as well. Mammy was a huge help to Meredith, that went without saying, and even the sister’s arrival could have been downright convenient as Will’s younger brother, Jesse, who helped him on his farm, was also wifeless.
However, Jesse was a stubborn son-of-a-bitch and Hillary was the feistiest little brat Will had laid his eyes on in quite some time. The two of them, not surprisingly, were hitting sparks like steel on flint… at least most of the time. Still, considering what Will had overheard in the barn three nights ago, things might be moving in the right direction, but with a firebrand like Hillary one never knew.
Jake cleared his throat. "Oh, by the way, congrats on the new claim. Lot a work taking on another."
Will, pulled from his thoughts, looked at the storekeeper, confused. "What?"
"Didn’t you take another claim? Up Old Hightops way? I was sure the little gal…"
Will set his bundles back on the counter, a horrible suspicion growing. "What little gal?"
"The missus’ sister, you know, the spunky little thing…"
Spunky. That was putting it mildly. "Hillary."
"Yeah. Yeah. Hillary. She was in here t’other day, said that you’d taken another claim up towards Old Hightops. Asked me if I’d draw her a map. She said you an’ Jess were workin’ up there and that she and your wife wanted to go up and surprise you. I drew her the map like she asked, but told her I didn’t think much of the idea. Told her it was near a day’s walk. Rough country and all." He paused, and when Will said nothing, continued a little tentatively. "I… hope I done right, Will."
Will sighed, his heart sinking. "Jake, I haven’t taken on another claim. The land Hillary was asking about belonged to their Pa. He bought it years ago, before the War, as some sort of investment. That was why Meredith answered my advertisement originally?" he said, by way of explanation, "?because she recognized the name of the town, knew it was near their Pa’s land." He rubbed his forehead wearily. "Anyway, Hillary’s been fussin’ about going up there ever since they got here… has some fool idea about living there by herself… bein’ independent." Will clenched his fist and put it down on top of his bundles. "Now that I think about it, I haven’t seen her since yesterday afternoon. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts she’s run off up there."
Jake snorted and chuckled. "That sassy little liar!"
Will’s jaw tightened, not sharing the storekeeper’s amusement. "That sassy little liar is in a pile of trouble. This is no joke, Jake. There are at least ten claims between ours and that one, plus bears and wildcats and snakes." He paused, reflecting that someone else was in trouble as well. Meredith had explained Hillary’s absence from the supper table by claiming her sister had the headache, and that now looked to be a deliberate lie. "Listen, Jake, could you draw me another map? I want to be sure of what you told her."
When Jake finished, Will gathered up his purchases and left with only a curt, "See you, Jake."
Jake Boozer shook his head, feeling guilty yet still secretly amused. From the look in Will Svenson’s eye, that Miss Hillary was not going to be sittin’ pretty too much longer. No sirree bob, thought Jake, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes when Will finds her. If I don’t miss my guess, Jake reflected, that little bird’s goin’ to be turned right quick into a very red-tailed hawk.
By the time Will arrived back at the house, he was steaming. Not even bothering to curry his horse, he strode into the kitchen. Meredith stood with Mammy at the table, kneading bread. Sally kneeled on a bench, chattering while she kneaded her own small piece of creamy dough.
Meredith raised her head at the sound of Will’s boots on the porch and hurriedly looked back down again. Blood rushed into her cheeks.
Will watched his wife through the open door. Her furtive motion, coupled with the pink stain in her cheeks, convinced him of her duplicity. He stood and said nothing, until, obviously becoming more and more flustered, Meredith glanced up again. Sally, aware of the undercurrent in the room, looked up as well. Her eyes went wide. "What’s wrong, Papa?" she asked in a small quivering voice. Sally had only seen her father look like this a few times, but when he had, it never boded well. Her brother Jeremy called it the "switchin’ look." Sally glanced at her father’s hands, then sighed, relieved. No sign of a switch and anyway, he wasn’t really looking at her…
Without taking his eyes from his wife’s still face, Will said, "Go on out and play, Sal."
"What’s wrong, Papa?" Sally repeated.
Now Will did look down at his daughter. Sally swallowed hard. It was definitely the "switchin’ look." "Mind me, Sally."
Sally could not comply quickly enough. Without another word, she fled into the sunshine.
Will did not even spare a glance to make sure his daughter was gone. "I’ll be speaking with you in the front room, Meredith." Will walked through the kitchen and into the front of the house.
Terrified, Meredith managed to croak out at his departing back, "The bread…"
Without even looking around, he snapped, "Leave it." The door shut with a thud.
Pale, Meredith looked over at Mammy, who was shaking her head dolefully. "Miss Hillary in a heap a’ trouble. You in a heap a’ trouble."
"What am I going to do, Mammy?" Meredith whispered.
Mammy snorted. "Honey, he know de truth. You jes diggin’ you own grave if you tell mo’ lies."
Meredith wiped her hands in her apron, then continued to grasp and pull at the fabric, nervously. "But he’s so mad…" She looked to her former nurse for comfort.
"Chile, he be yo’ husband now. You gots to go to him. Anythin’ he’s got planned, just gonna go harder if you dillydally."
Meredith opened her mouth to speak but snapped it shut as a terse "Meredith!" thundered from behind the closed door. Barely managing a squeak, she fled into the front room.
Will was leaning on the desk, half-sitting, half-standing, his arms folded over his chest, his legs crossed in front of him. His dark blue eyes were fixed on her, hard and angry. "Shut the door."
Shaking, she complied.
"You were awful twitchy last night and this morning, Meredith. I thought that maybe your monthlies were coming on, but… that’s not so, is it?"
A hot wave of shame coursed through her body. That he would mention such a thing straight-out in broad daylight… Too mortified even to speak, she shook her head quickly, her eyes fixed on her apron.
"She went up to the property, didn’t she?"
Meredith nodded, still unable to meet her husband’s eyes.
"When? When’d she leave?"
"Yesterday… just before supper."
"And you knew she was planning this?"
"No.. no… not before… I mean, I knew when she left… I saw her… but I didn’t know she was planning it."
"I hope you’re not lying to me, Meredith."
Meredith brought her eyes up quickly to her husband’s face. "No, Will, I swear."
"But you lied at supper, didn’t you? You looked me straight in the eye and told me a bald-faced untruth."
Tears welled in Meredith’s eyes and threatened to spill over. Soundlessly, she nodded her head.
Will opened his mouth to speak, then shut it again. His wife could wait. First things first, he realized. They had a nineteen year old girl wandering around alone on a mountain. "Where’s Jess?"
"Up north of the house, I think."
Will walked quickly out of the room. Over his shoulder, he snapped, "You just set here until I come back. I’m not through with you yet, girl."
Tears began to pour down Meredith’s cheeks.
Jesse was splitting rails for fencing and the sound of the ax rang through the woods. Will found him quickly. "Jess," he called out, still a hundred yards from his brother. "It’s me. Come on back to the house. We got trouble."
Will turned and headed back at a half-trot towards the house. As soon as Jesse caught up, Will snapped, "Hillary’s gone."
"A couple a’ days back, she tricked Jake Boozer into drawing her a map, showing her how to get up to the property. After he told me that, it hit me that I hadn’t seen her since yesterday afternoon. She’s gone."
A wave of anger swept over Jesse. "That little…? I can’t believe it. You sure, Will? I thought she was sick in bed." Jesse had known at the time, of course, that "sick in bed" was a lie, albeit a harmless one. But this new revelation was much more serious.
"Oh, yeah. I come home to find out that Meredith knew she’d left. Lied, in fact, to cover for her."
Jesse’s mouth tightened into a grim line. "You going to let me handle this?"
Will stopped and looked at his younger brother. "Jess, I know about you and Hillary. I walked into the barn to check one of the mares the other night… and, well, I heard her yowling like a scalded cat. Didn’t take much to figure what you two were doing up in that loft." He sighed heavily. "I hope you intend to do right by her. No matter what, she’s no whore. What you been doing to her out in the barn makes her half your woman. If you go on up to Hightops and give her what she deserves for this stunt, like it or not, you got the other half." He punched his brother’s shoulder with an affectionate shove. "Yeah. I’m going to let you handle it. Christ, I’ve no desire to. I got my own to deal with."
Jesse knew perfectly well what had prompted Hillary’s escape. There seemed no point, however, in sharing the details with Will. Even more than Will, it was he whom she had defied and it would fall to him to deal out the consequences. As they reached the house, he stalked up the stairs to his bedroom, ignoring Meredith who was sniffling in the front room.
The little fool, he raged, but under his raging he felt a touch of fear grip his belly. The claims and the logging camp through which Hillary would have to pass were peopled by a less than desirable element, and a tempting little thing like Hillary was hardly going to be sent on her way with a tipped hat and a courteous, "Good day, Ma’am." Those animals would have her skirts around her ears before they’d even said "Howdy." Remembering her outfit the last time she’d tried to run off, his eyes narrowed ominously. If she’s even wearing skirts, he amended, becoming more concerned by the second.
Quickly he changed, stuffed a few more things into his saddle bags and strapped on his handgun, tying it, without even thinking, low down on his right leg. He went down the stairs and grabbed his rifle from the rack. Will was standing in the front hall waiting for him.
Jesse glanced through the door into the front room. Meredith, sitting on the settee, raised her pale and tear-stained face to him. "I’m so sorry this happened, Jess. I’m really worried about her."
Meredith looked so grief-stricken that Jesse was ready to mouth some comforting reassurance when Will, shaking his head silently at his brother over her head, interjected sternly, "You should be, Meredith. She’s put herself in a very dangerous situation, and you’ve helped her."
At this, Meredith put her face into her palms and began sobbing in earnest.
Jesse and Will walked out onto the porch together and went over the map. Then, Jesse, his mouth tight, he looked at his brother somberly. "I’m trying to figure the best way to handle this."
Will eyes went wide. "I’ll tell you how to handle it," he snapped. "She was promised a whippin’ if she ran off again and a whippin’ she better get. If you don’t have her bare tail in the air within ten seconds after you find her…"
Jesse shook his head impatiently. "I don’t need any ideas about that. I promise you once I get a hold on her, she’s not going to eat sitting for a month. I’m talking about…," he inhaled deeply, "what I’m going to do if I don’t find her."
"I think you’ll find her, Jess. The ground’s damp, so she should be easy to track. She’s got a decent map and fair directions. Hell, all she had to do is follow the stream until she got to the lake. I think you’ll find her." Will shoved his hands into his pants pockets. "Damn that little brat."
Jess stepped off the porch, strapped on his saddle bags, and vaulted onto Mountain Girl. He gathered the reins to turn his horse, but his eye caught on a large basket of kindling that sat on the front porch. Will had broken up a small crate a few days earlier and the slats were piled neatly on top of the stack. About a half inch thick, two inches wide, and fifteen inches long, the slats were just what Jesse had been envisioning. He gestured towards the pile. "Hand me one of those, Will. It’ll save me having to look for something once I get my hands on her."
Chuckling grimly, Will complied. Jess stuffed the slat down into his saddle bag and kneed Mountain Girl into a trot.
Meredith had come to the door to watch Jesse’s departure. She looked at her husband, confused. "I don’t understand, Will. Why did he want the kindling? Surely there’ll be enough wood on the mountain to build a fire."
Will looked at his naive wife with a rueful smile. "He’s not going to build a fire with it, Merry." He paused. "Although, you could say he sure as hell’s going to heat something up with it."
She still did not get it. "Well, what then?"
"He’s going to tan her little ass with it."
Meredith’s jaw dropped and her eyes opened wide. "What? You mean…," it was too horrible to contemplate, "…he’s going to… strike her?"
Will snorted. "That’s one way of putting it."
"But Will. He can’t. I mean, she’s a young lady. Will, you’ve got to stop him. Call him back!" Her voice rose to a high, frantic pitch.
"Forget it, honey." Will guided his wife firmly into the front room and sat her down on the divan, but before he could start talking, Meredith jumped back up and began twisting her hands frantically in her apron.
"Will, you’ve got to listen to me. I mean, it’s just not done. Young ladies are not… should not… be subjected to…," she lowered her voice to a horrified whisper, "…corporal punishment." She looked up at Will pleadingly, her eyes huge. "Please, you’ve got to stop him."
"Meredith, I’ve no intention of stopping him. Things must be real different in Virginia, but in Colorado, when a young woman is willfully disobedient or," he fixed his wife with a hard stare, "tells lies, she’ll definitely find that… corporal punishment is very much the thing. I promise you if I’d gone, I’d have burned her butt the same way he’s going to."
"But she never…. I mean, no one has ever…."
Will’s face relaxed slightly into an incredulous half-smile. "Are you telling me you were never spanked as children? Even when your father was alive?"
Meredith’s back stiffened in shock. "Of course not."
Will raked his blond hair back. "Well, I’m beginning to see part of the problem. A few solid lickings through the years would have done your sister," he fixed his wife with a glare, "and you, a world of good."
Meredith turned crimson at the thought of it. "Poor Hillary," she gasped.
Will raised an eyebrow. "Poor Hillary? I think you better start thinking about poor Meredith."
"What?" Meredith choked out, her face draining to white.
Will sat down next to his wife, his face grave. "Merry, you’ve caused us serious trouble. Any self-respecting husband would have had you over his knee with your drawers down as soon as he got hold of you in the kitchen."
Horrified at the image, Meredith could only choke out the first inane thing that came to mind. "But I’m twenty-six. That’s too old for… that."
Will cupped Meredith’s chin with his fingers and turned her face up to his. "Not in my house it’s not, Merry," he told her somberly. He rose. "Now you sit right here. I’ve got to have a little talk with Mammy." As he reached the door, he turned and fixed his wife with a hard gaze. "And don’t be thinking to run off anywhere, Meredith. If I’ve got to come looking for you, it’ll just go all the harder."
Meredith’s blushing face had gone utterly still. "Will," she whispered, beyond shock. "You surely can’t mean to…"
"Oh, yes, Mrs. Svenson. I surely can."
A terse conversation with his wife’s former mammy solved the problem of Jeremy and Sally; a picnic lunch was quickly planned. Will loitered in the kitchen as his wife’s babyhood nurse packed the food. Will had given the woman no specifics, said only that he needed her to take the children away from the house for awhile, but Mammy was no fool. Pausing in her work, she raised her face, sad with concern, to Will’s. "You ain’t gwine go too hard on mah chile?"
Clenching his jaw, he fought down a sharp response. The woman had been a slave, after all: in spite of the fact that she’d obviously loved the children she raised enough to stay with them even after she was freed, there was no telling what she’d seen in her life. He chose his words carefully. "Mammy, she lied to me straight out. I can’t let that pass. When I’m through with her, she’s not going to be sitting too easy for the next couple days, but…," he trailed off, uncertain about what to say next.
The older woman’s dark face broke into a broad, gap-toothed smile. "Well, Ah’s mighty glad to hear it, yessuh. That gal and her sister both never did get the switchin’s they needed." She paused. "Ah just… well, Ah’s seen some men pretty heavy-handed with a whip…or usin’ their fists… and…"
Will rose quickly, glad he’d not snapped at her, and put his arm on her shoulder. "Don’t worry one bit, Mammy. She’s going to be mighty surprised and mighty sore, but I’d never hurt her."
Mammy nodded in satisfaction and quickly finished the picnic. The children, too happy about their good fortune to wonder at such a treat in the middle of the day, were hustled away from the house to a nearby stream to eat the food and wade. After they were gone, Will sat in the kitchen, contemplating his coming actions. His wife needed this lesson; that much was clear. Out here, wifely submission was not an option, it was a requirement. There were dangers and she had to learn that he was to be obeyed, immediately and without argument, every time. Yet, he didn’t want a return to his first wife, who had been raised by a brutal Swedish father and was so timid she jumped if he walked in the room. He furrowed his forehead, concerned. Somehow, he was going to have to teach her that while he welcomed her opinion, in the end she had to mind.
Will had no experience with punishing grown women, but surely other men punished wives and near-grown daughters. The big question was what implement he should use. The razor strop was effective; Will himself had been on the receiving end of one often enough during his teen years. However, it was, in his opinion, too severe for a first experience. Jesse’s observation that the crate slats were perfect was actually right on target, but, he sighed, it just didn’t seem quite right.
His eyes narrowed as he thought of his mother and how, in the years prior to his father taking over his discipline, he’d been sent up to his bedroom to await his mother and her wooden hairbrush… She might have been a Boston lady, but somehow she had figured out how to handle a mischievous little farm boy. He’d gotten harder whippings from his Pa when he’d been older, but somehow there was nothing like his mother’s serious, solemn spankings, delivered to a bare bottom as he was turned over her apron-covered lap. His eyes narrowed at the image, satisfied. Meredith even had a similar hairbrush. The brush it would be. It would make just the impression he wanted made for this first experience.
That settled, Will considered where he should punish her. The woodshed was a possibility, but… no. There was always the chance that from the stream the children would be able to see their step-mother escorted there: that would never do. Although Will expected Meredith to learn her lesson quickly, he doubted that this first correction would be the last. Far better to set up a routine now that she would know would prevail in the future if she were defiant or disobedient. And for that, the intimacy of their bedroom seemed perfect. Let her know exactly what being sent upstairs in the middle of the day would mean.
Will rose and walked towards the front room. Meredith gazed up at him, clearly very nervous and frightened. He walked over to her silently, took her calmly by the hand and led her up the narrow stairs, his work boots heavy on the treads, her bare feet slipping soft and reluctant behind him. "Will, oh please," she murmured. Her small hand felt clammy in his.
Arriving in their bedroom, without letting go of her hand, Will took a straight chair away from the desk, set it in the middle of the room, fetched her hairbrush off the dresser, then sat squarely in the chair. He looked up into his wife’s terrified eyes, and wondered briefly if he were doing the right thing. Her gaze was flicking quickly between his face and the brush, her mouth moving soundlessly. Maybe the scare of it was sufficient… No, he decided quickly. If he backed down now, an important lesson would be lost. She had to respect his word and know that he would carry out his promises.
She was wearing her daily working clothing, a full dark skirt, under which she wore two petticoats and drawers, and on top a shirtwaist tucked into the waist band of the skirt, with a full apron over all of it. A lot more clothing, in short, than he had to get out of the way when he punished his children. "Take off your apron and skirts, Meredith."
"Oh, Will, please, you can’t really mean…"
Calmly he unbuttoned the cuff of his chambray work shirt’s right sleeve and rolled it over his brawny forearm up to his elbow. "Meredith Svenson, you’ll do as you’re told, or I’ll add lack of cooperation to your list of sins, and up your whipping for that. Now do it, or I’ll do it for you." He dropped her arm.
Lip quivering, she removed her apron slowly, then stopped. A hot flush rose in Meredith’s cheeks and she threw the apron to the floor in a bundle, then stamped her foot angrily. "Well, I won’t. I’m not going to do any more. This is monstrous. I just won’t. I don’t know what kind of animal you’re turning into but… I won’t!" She whirled away and tried to march to the door.
Jaw hard, Will rose abruptly to his feet and tossed the brush to the bed. Taking two long strides, he grabbed his wife, bent her forward under one muscular arm, and, scooping her under the waist, brought her off her feet and pinned her at his hip. He brought his open palm down on her well-covered bottom once, twice, three, four, five times, quickly, and as sharply as possible, but it felt like he was paddling a pillow. This would never do. Will could not imagine that she could even feel the spanks, yet by the fifth thumping whack, she was squealing and apologizing profusely, her legs kicking behind, hands out in front snatching at air. "I’m sorry, Will, I’m sorry. I won’t do it again."
He stopped, set her down, turned her to face him and held her shoulders. "You got one more chance to do it yourself."
Tears glistened in her wide blue eyes. "Do what?"
His jaw dropped in exasperation. "Take up your skirts."
"What? You’re not…," her voice went to a high squeak, "…done?"
"Done?" He looked at her incredulously. She thought that was it? That was the punishment? He almost wanted to laugh at her complete foolishness, but instead he schooled his expression to harsh sternness. "Meredith, I’ve had just about enough. You looked me straight in the eye and lied to me. As your husband, I have the right," he paused, "and the responsibility to correct you. I intend to spank you with this," he snatched the hairbrush off the bed, "until your bare backside is as red as an apple. Do you understand me? Now drop your skirts."
She shook her head soundlessly, her face a mask of stunned shock.
"Jesus…" This was going nowhere fast. Roughly, he dropped the brush, then put his hands to the waistband of his wife’s clothing, unbuttoned the skirt and began fumbling with the ties of her petticoats. Squealing, she struggled, pushing and slapping at his hands, but Will merely grabbed her hands, pinned both slender wrists between the long hard fingers of one hand, lifted her arms above her head, and went on deftly about his task with his free hand. When all her clothes were loosened, he flipped her face down on the bed, held her there with one arm across her back, and used the other to jerk what seemed like endless yards of material down her kicking legs and off.
Finally, he was getting somewhere! He could actually see her drawers now, thin cotton cambric stretched across her bottom, with a small dainty lace ruffle falling to her knees. It was a warm day, so she had been working in the kitchen barefoot; below the lace, her sturdy legs were bare.
He looked at his wife as she lay there, struggling, kicking, and… Were his ears deceiving him? Had that been a curse word he’d heard fall from her Virginia-lady lips? Irritated as he was, Will almost grinned as he reached to his wife’s waist and started unbuttoning the side-buttons of her undergarment. Within seconds, the garment was loose; putting his hand under the waistband, feeling the warm skin of her backside against his knuckles, he pulled the back off her bottom. Reaching under her belly, he pulled the front down as well. Her curly hair brushed his hand. She let out a shriek like a steam-engine.
"Now we’re getting somewhere, Mrs. Svenson," he muttered grimly as he slipped his brawny arm