If you’ve ever struggled to explain the appeal of DD to yourself or someone else, you’ll likely relate to the characters in the standalone sequel to “Old-Fashioned Education” and third installment in Fiona Wilde’s “Communities of Discipline” series.
Just when their plans to form a new community based on the principles of self sufficiency and domestic discipline are under way, Walt Springer and his fiance Polly Perkins are asked to return to Pepper’s Hollow.
Walt is more than happy to once again assume leadership of the community he founded, and Polly is pleased to return to the friends who supported her in accepting her submissive nature.
But when Walt’s younger brother Phillip arrives on the scene, the harmony of their isolated world is tested.
Like his brother, Phillip Springer is talk dark and handsome. But that’s where the similarity ends. Phillip is a progressive artist who thinks the domestic discipline lifestyle is barbaric, and while he agrees to keep his opinions to himself while working through the winter at the community, his insulting comments to Polly begin to shake her faith in the path she’s following.
Things only become more complicated with unannounced the arrival of Jenny Kramer, Polly’s best friend. Jenny isn’t happy that Polly has dropped out of society, and when she learns about the community’s lifestyle, she’s determined to “save” Pollyanna from DD.
Can a couple committed to the principles of DD defend their choices to outsiders who hold the worst views of how they live? If you’ve ever had your domestic discipline views challenged, then you can relate to Walt and Polly’s dilemma as they seek to preserve their relationship and enlighten their friends. And who knows? Maybe the newcomers will realize there’s more to DD than meets the eye.
“So why do animals hibernate?” Pollyanna Perkins looked out at the faces that filled her one-room schoolhouse. “Come on, guys,” she prompted. “You see animals all the time. You should know this.”
“Because they’re bored?” Peter Criner offered. Polly looked to her side, where the eight-year-old boy fidgeted in his seat. “I’m bored,” he offered.
She mock-scowled at Peter, who was kept at the front of the room where she could keep an eye on him. “Now, Peter, what do I always say?”
“If you’re bored, you’re boring,” he said.
“You got it!” Pollyanna smiled as she ruffled the child’s already tousled hair.
Another hand went up. Mabel, an older student, stood when Polly nodded in her direction.
“Because there’s less food in the winter and sleeping helps slow down their metabolism?”
“That’s exactly right,” Polly said proudly. “And animals that hibernate do a lot of what in the fall?”
“Eating!” Kerry Springer called out, and pantomimed munching something in the palm of her hand.
Polly smiled down at the little girl, feeling a rush of love come into her heart. Since coming to Pepper’s Hollow nearly a year earlier, she’d fallen in love with Kerry and her brother, Aidan, just as she’d fallen in love with their father, Walt, who headed up the remote commune.
“Right again,” Polly said. “They eat. The bears, the woodchucks, the chipmunks ? they’re all about to bed down now. So tonight’s assignment is an art project: research where these animals hibernate and draw a picture of them sleeping in their woodland bed.”
Some of the students groaned; others cheered. Homework was never popular, but Pollyana tried to make it fun for them.
“All right, guys. That’s it,” she said. “School is dismissed.”
There was a scuffle of chairs against the wooden floor as everyone stood and headed to the cloakroom for their coats. Pollyanna went around straightening chairs and papers as the kids said their goodbyes. She was checking to make sure the fire had died down in the school’s woodstove when Walt entered.
“Hello, Teach,” he said.
She stood and turned, smiling. “Hello, Mr. Springer.”
He walked over and kissed her on the cheek. “Good day?”
“Busy. You know how hard it is for kids to concentrate this time of year with Christmas right around the corner.” She smiled. “I have to say, though, that Kelly and Aidan Springer are exceptionally well-behaved.”
Walt wound his arms around Pollyanna. “I think that may be because they have such a strict father. Keeps them on the straight and narrow. Nobody wants a spanking” He grinned. “It works for you, too.”
Pollyanna blushed, remembering the first time Walt had spanked her. She’d not been at Pepper’s Hollow very long before she’d run afoul of the community’s leader. She’d known Pepper’s Hollow was conservative and opposed to technology, and had hidden her agenda to enlighten the children she felt lived a cloistered, deprived lifestyle. She was even more committed to implementing change when she realized the community wasn’t just conservative, but patriarchal in structure. By the time Walt grew wise to what she was doing, Pollyanna had been snowed in. Walt knew the only way to keep Pollyana from undermining the community and creating a hostile environment for the duration of her stay was to bring her under the community’s preferred form of discipline ? spanking.
Polly had been furious, but after the initial umbrage, she’d begun to communicate with Walt, and to begin to know his children. Another side of the man she’d dismissed as a brute emerged. His wife – who had held the teaching position she’d been hired to fill ? had abandoned Walt and their two children. It was harder than Walt let on. Melissa Springer had been part of the formation of Pepper’s Hollow, and her absence had shaken him and left him hardly equipped to cope.
Had she been asked a year before if she’d ever imagine not only being happily living in a community that practiced domestic discipline but preparing to marry its leader, she would have laughed. But she and Walt were now preparing for a Valentine’s Day wedding.
It had been a whirlwind year. The couple had been preparing to leave Pepper’s Hollow and start a new community, but before they could get the plans under way, tragedy struck back home. Benjamin Criner, the man pegged to be the new leader, had been helping cut down trees for wood to expand the community center when a tree fell in the wrong direction, pinning him underneath. Both legs were badly broken, requiring emergency transport to the nearest large trauma center. The community was in disarray, and asked Walt to come back. He immediately agreed.
While the circumstances were not ideal, Polly was secretly as happy as Walt to return. Pepper’s Hollow felt like home. The kids were happy, too, to be reunited with their friends. Here, things were familiar. For Polly, it was an environment in which she and Walt could live as they chose without fearing judgment.
Still, the domestic lifestyle was a continuing adjustment for her. Even now, having Walt so casually remind her that he could take her over his knee and spank her to tears at his discretion was jarring.
“Yes, spanking does work for me,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean I like it.”
“You’re not supposed to,” he said.
They turned as the door opened and Polly moved away from Walt. “Speaking of people who don’t like spanking,” she said under her breath.
Walt shot her a stern look before turning to walk to the door.
“Here. Let me help you with that.”
Walt reached up, taking half the load of wood stacked in the other man’s arms and revealing his face.
“Hey, Polly,” he said now that the logs weren’t blocking his way.
“Hey, Phillip.” Pollyanna forced a smile, and could tell by Phillip’s expression that he knew it was forced. Not that it mattered; his was no more genuine than hers.
“I finished cutting that downed oak behind the Criners’ place.” Phillip stood from where he’d knelt to help Walt stack the wood. “We’re going to try and get it stacked and split before it snows if you want to help. Those clouds are looking pretty thick.”
Walt glanced out the window. “Nah, I think it’ll hold off until tomorrow. It can wait.”
“Whatever you say, John Wayne.”
“Is that necessary?” Pollyanna turned now, scowling. “These little digs are getting old, Phillip.”
“What?” A smile returned to Phillip’s handsome face, this one genuine and mischievous. “I can call my brother anything I want.”
“Please, both of you. Just?” Walt put up his hands. He looked at the younger man. “You know, Phillip. It might just snow early. Why don’t you start stacking the wood from that tree if you want to? I’ll be out to help in a few minutes.”
“Sure, bro.” Phillip pulled his hat down over his ears. “Just don’t be too hard on the little woman for smarting off at me. I’m sure she was just being an emotional girl.”
He left, and Walt turned to Pollyana, but she wouldn’t look at him. She was busy jerking on her coat.
“I just wish you and my brother would try to get along,” he said.
“Why?” She stopped zipping her parka to look up at him. “Why should I when the minute I feel settled here in Pepper’s Hollow, the minute I realize that the life I never thought I’d choose is the right one for me, you welcome in someone who makes a daily game of instilling shame for how we live?”
“Hold on, Polly,” Walt said. “I didn’t ‘welcome’ him. He lost his job and his apartment. He had nowhere else to go. And like it or not, he’s family.”
“And I’m not?”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re going to be my wife.”
“But I’m not yet.” She sighed as she finished zipping her parka and pulled the mittens from the pockets. “You know, Walt, when I came here, I was a lot like Phillip. I was pretty liberal-minded and thought the men here were brutes and the women were victims of some patriarchal cult. And you told me that while I may not accept the way things are here at Pepper’s Hollow, I had to respect them. So why doesn’t he?”
Walt put a piece of wood in the stove and closed the door before turning back to his fianc?. “Polly, we’ve been over this. Phillip’s stay here is temporary. As soon as he gets on his feet, he’s going back to the city.”
“So as long as he’s here he can be a condescending ass and mock our lifestyle?” She felt her anger starting to rise and ignored the warning look Walt gave her. “He referred to you as ‘Spanky’ the other day, you know. And he calls me Mrs. Cleaver. And I’m fucking sick of it?”
“Polly?.” A warning tone joined the warning look.
“But fine!” She threw up her hands. “If you’re not man enough to say something to your little brother, maybe I should.”
“All right. That’s it.” Walt closed the distance between them.
Pollyanna’s voice died away as she faced her angry fianc?. She knew the look he was giving her ? knew it all too well.”
“Listen,” he said. “When I said I wished you’d get along, I did not mean I wanted you to just shut up and accept his comments. I’ve talked to him about this once. And I’ll talk to him about it again. I was planning to, anyway. But let me tell you something, young lady. My brother’s mocking my authority doesn’t give you the right to reject mine, which is exactly what you just did.” He paused. “Go to the house and wait for me.”
“Go on, now.” He inclined his head sharply towards the door. “The kids are at the community building doing Christmas crafts. They won’t be home for another couple of hours. That’s going to give me time to give you the spanking you earned and then go talk to my brother.”
“Walt?” She tried again.
“Don’t make this worse, Polly. Go.”
So Polly went, pulling her hat down angrily as she left the schoolhouse. She pulled her parka tightly around her as she walked and glanced up at the sky. It was sunny, but heavy grey clouds were moving in from the west.
After a year in Pepper’s Hollow, Polly was bracing for another winter. The first one had been fierce, and this one promised to be as well. Snows were coming earlier. The remote community had already seen one in the middle of November, but had been well-prepared. The women canned homegrown fruit and vegetables all summer and into early fall. The men hunted and dried fish, venison and even bear meat. Skins and crafts were traded for food in the nearest small town. A few of the men had even hired themselves out in the previous spring and summer to earn extra income for things they needed that could not be bartered for.
Hiring out had been a contentious decision. The community’s initial goal was to be completely removed from society, and when Polly had arrived she’d been the first to question that practice once she’d decided to stay. The community had midwives and nurses, but as the new teacher, Polly expressed concern that some connection with the outside community was needed. Two of the children in her school showed signs of developmental delays and needed speech or developmental therapies. One of the women had endured a difficult delivery that could have been predicted with an ultrasound. As Polly gained the community’s trust, she’d become more outspoken with her message that the outside world was not the enemy, but an asset, and that Pepper’s Hollow could still remain apart from society while taking advantage of the things that could make their lives easier.
As she walked into the empty cabin, she found herself fuming at Walt’s brother ? and at Walt. She’d gained the community’s trust because she’d proven that a woman could embrace societal advances while at the same time choosing a simpler, submissive life. It had taken her many months to convince the community that she was ? above all ? willingly submissive to the ideals of Pepper’s Hollow. She’d been proud to find that balance, and to forge her place here. She was completely happy.
His arrival was interfering with that happiness. As liberal as Walt was conservative in his views on men and women, Phillip never missed a chance to take a dig at the Pepper’s Hollow lifestyle. It shamed Pollyana to think that she’d ever been so judgmental of the choices of others. Walt repeatedly told her to ignore his brother, that he’d be gone soon enough. But she couldn’t, and now she was the one in trouble. It wasn’t fair.
The door opened and Pollyanna could hear the familiar footfalls of her fianc?.
“In here,” she called from the bedroom. Her tone was flat.
Walt’s large frame filled the doorway. He stood looking at her for a moment before entering. Pollyana glanced at him and then looked away.
“I guess this is the part where I get spanked for not being patient with your brother,” she said, hating her petulant tone.
“No,” Walt said, rolling up his sleeves to reveal his brawny forearms. He walked over and took her by the arm, gently lifting her from where she’d been sitting on the bed and taking her place. She did not resist as he guided her across his lap. “No, this is the part where you get spanked for cursing and being disrespectful. That’s a separate matter and you know it.”
She felt him push up the long sweater that hung to the middle of her bottom, and then lifted her hips in practiced obedience as he reached underneath to unsnap her jeans and pull them along with her white cotton panties down to the middle of her thighs.
Pollyanna felt Walt’s broad hand rest itself on her bottom, and reined in the gut instinct to feel resentment for what was about to happen. He was right; no matter how upset she was, there was no excuse for her to curse Walt or take petty digs at his manhood.
“Why are you being spanked, Polly?”
“For being disrespectful and for cursing.” Her voice trembled as she spoke.
“That’s exactly right. It gives me no pleasure to do this, but if spanking you is what it takes to remind you of the rules, then that’s exactly what’s going to happen.”
She cried out as he raised his hand and brought it down with a resounding smack. The room was cool, and the burn of the first swat from his hard hand was jarring. But Pollyanna had little time to process it. Walt was a methodical spanker, and soon she was squirming and whimpering and then crying outright as he peppered the entire surface of her bottom with unrelenting, open-handed spanks.
As the pain and heat built, she could no longer remain still. She kicked her legs and sobbed, and Walt wrapped his arms around her waist and trapped her legs with one of his as he renewed his onslaught, this time on the lower portion of her buttocks and upper thighs.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry!” She was a contrite mess by the time he slowed and then stopped the spanks. For several long moments, she lay there, hearing the sounds of her own sobs and his breathing. She felt equal measures of shame and pain.
“Up,” he said. “And into the corner.”
Hobbled by her own lowered pants, she shuffled to the corner, her humiliation acute. Walt did not always send her to the corner; in fact, he only did it when he felt her behavior had been especially egregious and wanted her to reflect on why she’d been punished.
Once again, Pollyanna resisted the urge to give into self-pity. She knew Phillip’s presence wasn’t easy for Walt, either. The two of them were as different as night and day, and from what Walt had told her, they’d never been particularly close. Where Walt had always held to traditional views, Phillip went out of his way to buck tradition. Where Walt believed in the importance of gender roles and a chain of command, Phillip subscribed to the idea that only egalitarian relationships were respectful, and that anything else was oppressive. One of the stipulations of his coming to Pepper’s Hollow was that he respects the community’s decisions. And overall, he did. But privately, to Pollyanna and Walt, he expressed his disdain for domestic discipline with an almost constant stream of sarcasm.
“Ready to talk?” He’d come back into the room and was standing behind her now. Pollyanna sniffed pathetically as he pulled her panties and jeans up. He wrapped his arms around her front to fasten the button and gently draw up the zipper. Then he turned her around and wiped her tears with a handkerchief he pulled from his shirt pocket.
“What’s there to say?” she asked. “I shouldn’t have lost my temper.”
“No, you shouldn’t,” he said. “And if you’d lost it at Phillip, then I’d say he had it coming. You aren’t required to obey him. But you are required to obey me, Polly.”
She turned to him and sighed. “It would be a lot easier if that obedience didn’t require watching while he walks all over our values.”
“You know how he is,” Walt said dismissively.
“Yes, I do,” she replied. “I know how he is because I was just like him when I came to Pepper’s Hollow. But the difference is that I was ordered not to undermine the way things are done here. And he’s allowed to do just that.”
“There’s a difference, though,” Walt countered. “You were told to respect the way things are done here because you were joining the community. Phillip is here temporarily. And overall he is respectful, Polly.”
“Maybe to everyone else,” she said. “But he never misses a chance to try to make you doubt the way we live.” Polly turned and looked up at Walt. “Or me.”
“Is that what he’s doing? Making you doubt what we have? Really, Polly? Your faith in our relationship is really so easily shaken?”
Polly fixed him with a hurt look. “That’s not fair, Walt,” she said quietly.
Now it was his turned to be ashamed. He looked down at his shoes.
“You seem to forget that I had to discover my submissiveness,” she said. “I’d been conditioned to think differently. I didn’t have the bravery of my convictions that you did. And my social conditioning still, at times, rears its ugly head. It’s made me understand why Pepper’s Hollow is so important to the residents. They can live here without that judgment being thrown in their face. Then along comes your brother, making passing, hurtful comments about how we live. And they may be directed at just us. And they may have no effect on you, Walt. But to me, they hurt. And you know what hurts even worse? Your ignorance of my pain.”
“No, Walt,” she said. “You gave me the punishment I deserved and left me to deal with it. It’s only fair that I give you my honest opinion and leave you to deal with it.” She picked up her coat from the nearby chair. “I’m going to the community hall to help with the crafts. I’ll be back later to cook dinner.”
And she was out the door, leaving Walt standing in hurt silence. A few moments later, he rolled down his sleeves and left as well. It was time he had a talk with his brother.