“Well done, Ruby, you have pleased me greatly.” I seized Mr. Jones-Smyth’s words as a life raft. “Thank you, Sir. Am I forgiven?” He smiled and kissed me again. “Yes, my dear, you are forgiven.” I slumped as best I could, and flexed my cuffed wrists. My relief was short lived. “However, I wish to test your limits further. I’m told Mrs. Cleanknockers is an expert wielder of the cane.” It was the most confounding duality. Stark fear and deepest craving combined in my mind. A challenge then, a gauntlet tossed in my face. Pride rose like a burnt phoenix.
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