Martha and the Minister

A woman seeks help for her daughter, and gets it too.

by Hilary Wilmington

“I won’t say there is nothing to worry about, of course, Martha,” said Reverend Smith. “I would never say that about the teenage rebellion stage, simply because if it goes unchecked it can lead to much worse. But I’m sure that is all this is.  Sherry is fundamentally a good girl. It is just that at the stage she is going through, she needs a firm hand.”

They were having a heart-to-heart discussion, at Martha’s request, in his office.  Reverend Smith made himself available to his parishioners, by appointment, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and he had made a point of giving Martha a one-hour slot. She was one of the most faithful of his flock and she had some domestic difficulties of late. Her husband had left home eighteen months previously and had now told her he wished for a divorce. Her daughter, Sherry, was a headstrong girl. He did not feel as confident as he sounded about her, but it would not help Martha to make her even more worried.

“Time was when I’d spank her with my hairbrush,” said Martha. “But she’s gotten too big for that now. Literally, I mean! She takes after her mother in that way, I’m sorry to say!”

Martha wasn’t really sorry at all. She was justly proud of her curves and she couldn’t help taking this opportunity to work them into the conversation. Almost against her will, she kept making flirty remarks to Reverend Smith. He never responded to them, just acted as though he hadn’t heard, but on the other hand they certainly hadn’t had the effect of making him avoid her. He made a point of crossing the street to speak with her. Unless he was with his wife, that is. Then he sometimes even pretended he hadn’t seen her.

Martha felt quite hostile towards Mrs Smith after what Rose had said about her, which was that she didn’t think Mrs Smith gave her husband what men needed at home. That was bad enough, Martha thought, but it was especially bad in a minister’s wife. It was especially important for a minister not to succumb to temptation outside the home. Although he was a man of God, a minister was, all the same, just like other men in that particular respect and if those needs weren’t seen to it could spell disaster for him.

If it had so happened that Martha had been his wife, instead of Eliza Smith, she would have taken particular care that he was satisfied in the bedroom, so that he would be able to perform his valuable role in the community with an untroubled mind.

“What about at school?” He asked. “Has she ever been spanked there?”

“I beg your pardon? Oh, yes.” Martha reminded herself of the topic they were discussing. “Well she certainly was last week, because I caught her playing hookey and I marched her straight back up to the school. The Principal tried to say it was my responsibility to deal with it but I insisted he punish her and he went ahead and paddled her right there in front of me.”

“And was that effective, do you think?”

“Well, it wasn’t much of a paddling, if you ask me. When she got home later she was just as rude as ever. It was a different story when I was at High School, I can tell you!”

This was an opening Reverend Smith couldn’t resist.

“I can’t believe you had to get spanked at High School, Martha,” he said, even though he knew he shouldn’t be allowing himself to be diverted.

“Well, I assure you I did. Our Principal was a terrible teaser. By the time time he’d finished playing the paddle over your butt and pretending to give you the swat, you were actually longing for him to do it and get it over with. Except you changed your mind when it happened!”

Reverend Smith forced himself return to the matter in hand.

“I do think the Principal had a point, Martha. I agree it was his duty to deal with Sherry over her absence from school, but also I think you need to consider how you are going to take responsibility yourself for straightening her out.”

“I’m sure you’re right, Reverend Smith. You always are. You think I ought to spank her with a paddle?”

“Well I would never say definitely that you have to do this or you have to do that.  But it is something you could consider, yes.”

“It’s all so difficult since John left,” said Martha. “Could I possibly bring her to you for it?”

The minister’s instinct was to oblige. He was sympathetic to her predicament and would have liked nothing better than to help Martha in this way. But what if it got to be known among his congregation? Sherry would probably be too embarrassed to tell anybody, but he could not rely on that. If it did get out, people might be suspicious of his motives. His wife would certainly have something to say about it. When she had seen in his diary that he had a one-hour appointment with Martha today, for example, she had made a sarcastic comment about him spending ‘half the afternoon with the lovely Martha’. And it would be even worse if he kept it secret from her and she found out later.

“I’m afraid, Martha,” he said. “This is something you will have to do for yourself.”

“Oh dear, but how? I mean I haven’t even got a paddle. Do I have to go to a store and buy one? Is that possible?”

“Perhaps I can help you there, Martha. You know woodworking is my hobby. I have a workshop at home. I would be glad to make you something suitable.”

“Oh, thank you Reverend Smith!”

*          *          *

Two weeks later, Martha was seated once again in Reverend Smith’s office.  Between them, on his desk, lay a paddle, which even in its simplicity was a testament to the minister’s carpentry skills. It had been designed with both the intended user and the intended recipient in mind, being a bit narrower than a standard school paddle and also an inch or so longer. One end was fashioned into a comfortable handle. It was well balanced and had a natural swing to it when it was brought down through the air from being held aloft, so it did not require great strength to use. He had used beech, a hardwood most suitable for the purpose. He had smoothed off all the edges and polished it to perfection. It gleamed when it caught the sun’s rays shining through the window.

He planned to get Martha to practice with it on a cushion and he was looking forward to watching her and advising her on her technique.

But she forestalled this by exclaiming: “Oh, that is a work of art, but I don’t think I could ever bring myself to use it. When I look at it I get the feeling that it’s me that deserves to be spanked. I just feel so guilty.”

“Now don’t be silly, Martha,” he said. “You are a very good person and I am sure you have nothing to feel guilty about.”

“Oh, you mustn’t get the wrong idea about me,” she replied. “I’m not such a good person really. I sometimes tell lies, for instance.”

“We all tell lies sometimes, Martha, for the sake of other peoples’ feelings. White lies, we call them.”

“Sometimes I tell bad lies,” she insisted. “Like the other day when I was supposed to take Mrs Cartwright on her hospital visit I rang and said I couldn’t do it because I was ill, but I wasn’t. I just wanted to stay home and work on my garden. We’ve had such a lot of wind lately and there was no wind that day.”

Reverend Smith’s brow contracted into a deep frown.

“I certainly remember that,” he said, sounding very displeased. “I had to drive her there myself and it was very inconvenient.”

“I’m so sorry,” said Martha. “But now you see that I really am bad sometimes.”

“I do see that,” he said.

He was angry and disappointed, and he didn’t trust himself to say any more for the moment. He remembered the incident clearly. He had to cancel a meeting with a couple who had recently moved into the area and had expressed interest in joining his congregation. They had not been best pleased and they had since gone elsewhere. After a few seconds’ silence, he got up and came round the desk.

“I believe you do deserve a couple of swats with the paddle, Martha.”

He could hardly believe what he had just said. He immediately regretted it. Thinking that Martha would be outraged, he braced himself to apologize and then to somehow regain his side of the desk without too much loss of dignity.

Before he could say a word, however, Martha rose to her feet.

“Yes sir, I know I do,” she said.

Far from being outraged, Martha was actually relieved to hear his words. She was much less afraid of the paddle than of losing Reverend Smith’s good opinion of her.

After he had given her swats, she thought, he would surely forgive her.

Reverend Smith picked up the paddle, reassured by her response. But how should it be done? Could he really tell a grown woman to bend over? He didn’t think he could.

“Turn away from me, Martha,” he said.

She turned around and he raised the paddle. As he did so, she pushed out her bottom. Just a fraction. No more than half an inch. He might not have seen it at all if he had not been looking so closely and if the tightness of her jeans had not made it more noticeable. But observing it, his determination to correct her hardened.

“You have erred and strayed,” he told her sternly. “And I intend to see that you repent.”

“I truly will,” said Martha contritely. “I know I deserve this.” She felt and sounded like her schoolgirl self of twenty years ago.

The paddle slammed against the seat of her jeans. Martha gave something between a squeak and a squeal. She clasped her hands to her rear and held them there firmly for a few seconds before commencing a gentle up-and-down rubbing action.

Reverend Smith watched for some moments before asking: “Did the Principal of your High School allow you to rub your bottom between swats?”

“No sir.” This was a lie but she thought it was the answer he wanted, so that is what she said. Maybe it was one of those white lies that he had mentioned before.

“And what was the penalty if you did?”

“Er, extra swats?” She ventured.

“Precisely. You have just earned yourself three swats instead of two,” he told her.

He prepared to deliver the second. He saw her make her hands into fists, probably in an effort to prevent herself clasping them behind her again. It occurred to him that it wasn’t quite fair to leave her standing like this with her hands down at her sides, within such easy reach of her bottom. Making her bend over would solve the problem, but again he decided not to. He had no qualms now about telling her to do it but the fact was he didn’t want her bending over now. Having her standing upright next to him, inches away, allowed him to make a more accurate judgment of how she was responding to the paddle. This is what he told himself.

So he said: “Put your hands on your head, Martha.”

She was wearing her hair up today, as she usually did for attendance at church or other formal occasions. She included visits to Reverend Smith in this category because he was a figure of authority in her world and she held him in great respect. She placed her hands just above where the hair was bunched at the back of her head and clasped them together.

He raised the paddle again and saw her buttocks clench in anticipation. He was reminded of what she had said at their previous meeting about the heightened apprehension she’d felt at High School when she was teased before a swat. So he arrested the paddle half-way on its travel and then pressed it gently to the denim-clad buttocks. He watched them gradually relax as he played the paddle caressingly over them. He was glad that doing this had occurred to him. Her face was hidden from him by her bent arm. He could smell her perfume. Her head was inclined downwards, exposing her long, bare neck. He could see little wisps of stray hair which had escaped from the grips. It made her look vulnerable and very appealing, but he knew he must steel himself against any feelings of compassion in order to administer the correction she deserved.

Martha sensed the paddle rise in the air once more and she tensed again in anticipation of the swat, but once again she was deceived; it stopped in mid-air, after which she felt it playing some more over her behind. After a few more moments of this, up it went again. Surely this could not be another tease. She was right. This time it struck her in earnest. Her head went back and she was looking up at the ceiling, or rather she would have been if her eyes had been open. He had an excellent view of her profile. She kept her hands securely clasped to the back of her head but she pulled her bottom right in, as if to get it as far away as she could from the attentions of the paddle without actually moving her feet forward.

But she quickly pushed it back out with a whispered: “Sorry, Reverend Smith.”

He resumed his teasing of the inviting target. It was now pushed out further than it had been for the first two licks. She was not wearing a belt in her jeans and he was able to see far enough down the back of them to spot the waistband of a pair of pink panties. He pressed the paddle once more, firmly but gently, onto the prominent contours below it.

“I hope this will help you to be truthful in future, Martha,” he said. He was able to speak quietly because her head was very near to his.

“Oh yes sir, it will,” Martha assured him. “I am very sorry for lying to you. I am also very sorry for rubbing my bottom just now.”

Hearing this provoked an urgent need in Reverend Smith to help Martha expunge her guilt. He raised the paddle high and brought it down immediately. This was the third and last and also the hardest swat. She gave an inarticulate cry, but she bravely kept her hands on her head.

“That’s it over now, Martha,” he told her gently.

He didn’t know how it happened, but suddenly he found that his arms were clasped comfortingly around her, and her face was buried in his chest. Martha felt wonderfully at peace with herself and the rest of the world, better than she had felt for many months, as she sobbed against Reverend Smith’s shirt. She was sure of his forgiveness now and she was genuinely thankful that he had paddled her. She felt his lips press against the top of her head. Just press and then they pulled away.

If Mrs Smith questioned him about whether he had kissed her, he would be able to say: “No,” in all truthfulness.

It may seem strange that Martha should imagine Mrs Smith asking such a question, but whenever she thought of Mrs Smith she imagined her cross-examining her husband about one thing or another. She seemed like that sort of person. When Martha inadvertently turned her hip and it pressed against him in a certain place, she felt even more anger towards Mrs Smith. If just paddling Martha when she had been very bad made him feel like that, then her friend Rose must be right; his wife really wasn’t giving him what a man needed.

Now the best side of Martha’s nature asserted itself. Whatever Mrs Smith’s failings, she, Martha, must not lead the minister into temptation.

“It was very kind of you to take the trouble to spank me,” she said. “It was just what I needed. You are a wonderful person, always thinking of others and I wish I could be more like that.”

The glow induced in the Reverend Smith at this expression of admiration clashed uncomfortably with the nature of his thoughts at that moment concerning this same woman encircled in his arms. He knew it would be wrong to try to take their intimacy any further and, anyway, if he did so he would lose her respect.

With a superhuman effort, he released his hold and managed to say: “You are much better than you think you are, Martha. I want you to take this paddle away with you now and if you need to use it on Sherry you can do so with a clear conscience.”

After Martha closed the door behind her, Reverend Smith congratulated himself on his self-control. His thoughts now turned back to a problem concerning Martha which he had been meaning to address for some time but which, for some reason, he had been putting off. He considered it his duty to help her find a suitable second husband. He thought back to the church social of a couple of months ago when his friend Vernon, the deputy state attorney and a widower, had seemed to be getting on really well with her. When he had noticed them chatting and laughing together for most of the evening, he had thought that Martha was not quite suitable for him. After all, her first husband was just a builder. A state attorney would be rather a step up from that. Or was this an unworthy thought? Perhaps it was. Vernon had mentioned her to him again just the other day. Yes, he would definitely encourage it, try to fix up for them to meet again. Something along these lines must be done or Martha might stumble. It wouldn’t do for her to fall prey to an unsuitable man, possibly even, God forbid, a married man.

The End

© Hilary Wilmington 2017