Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Ludwig's Story II: Video Voyeur

As I wrote in the first part of my story, my interest in depictions of spanking and corporal punishment started when I was no older than eight or nine. Needless to say, I had never heard of BDSM or sadomasochism at that age. I only knew that I had strange fantasies which were somehow "grown up" in nature and which none of the other kids seemed to share. I did not talk about them to anyone. In secret, I wondered whether I might be the only person in the world who had this fascination with spanking and CP.

My kinky fantasies had started before I even had an interest in sex (or a clear understanding of how it worked). A few years down the road, however, I did start having an interest in sex. More precisely, I started being interested in naked women. My parents had a handful of issues of Playboy magazine, which were lying around in our living room amidst a pile of various other magazines. Previously, I had not paid them any attention. I had known that they were there, but wasn't interested in them. I would rather look at the other magazines which had articles about computers and science. But at the age of thirteen or fourteen, I suddenly became very curious about the Playboy magazines. I would sneak down to our living room at night to look at them.

(By the way, here is something worth thinking about in the discussion about censoring adult content. The self-appointed moral guardians love trotting out their old canard about "the necessity to protect minors" from the evils of porn. However, as a number of psychological studies shows, there isn't any danger to minors, because 1) in order to find adult content on the internet, you have to actively search for it, and 2) children simply aren't interested in adult content until they reach the age of puberty and start becoming adults themselves. My own development would seem to confirm this.)

The magazines must have made an impression, because several decades later, I still remember the name of one playmate from back then: Celine Huber, who was "Miss October" in 1989 (the magazine must have been a few years old when I looked at it). She had a cute face and a rather spectacular figure, with a petite bottom that seemed destined to inspire spankophile daydreams. The other readers must have shared my enthusiasm: they voted Celine playmate of the year.

(Celine Huber, Miss October 1989, German edition of Playboy)

The late 80s and early 90s were also the time when the German "Privatsender", the privately financed TV channels not owned by the state, would show erotic films late at night during the weekend. Some of them were softcore productions that had been made for TV to begin with, others were hardcore productions with all the explicit bits edited out. Again, I would sneak down on Friday and Saturday nights, when my parents were already in bed, to watch these films. I watched quite a few over these years. Many were utterly awful garbage, like the upight petty bourgeois fantasies of the German School Girl Report series. Some others I found pretty hot, like the French sex films with a Marilyn Monroe-lookalike named Olinka. The stories in the latter were just as silly, mind you, but at least they had good-looking women, and despite the cuts, you could tell that people were having real sex. At school, chatter during recess revealed that other kids were watching these late-night films as well, including most of the boys and some of the girls. One female classmate of mine complained that more was shown of the naked women's bodies than of the naked men. She certainly had a point there.

(Another tidbit worth thinking about: anti-porn crusaders claim that men are "pornified" by watching adult films, turning them into misogynists who see women only as servile sex objects. For what it's worth, I can report that no such transformation took place in my case. Just as I understood that films like Lethal Weapon or Die Hard were not accurate portrayals of the life and work of police officers, I understood that what was shown in soft porn films on late night TV was not an accurate portrayal of how people have sex in real life. I understood that the bodybuilder and the two gals with the supermodel figures having a threesome by the waterfall was simply an erotic fantasy. It did not change how I thought about women. I daresay that if men grow up to become misogynist jerks, there are other factors at play than pornography.)

After I started being interested in "normal" sex, my spanking fantasies subsided somewhat. One reason was that while there was a lot of sex in late night erotic films, scenes of spanking and CP were much more difficult to find. There were a few scenes like that in the school films and pirate films I already knew, but almost all of them were male on male, and none of them were made to be erotic. So I kept wondering whether I might be the only person in the world who would want to see spanking with an erotic "buzz" to it, and preferably with the opposite sex involved. I received the answer to that question one weekend night when I had once again snuck down from my room to watch an adult film on our TV.

What turned out to be a revelation began inauspiciously. As a matter of fact, the film looked like utter crap. It was an older production from the 1970s. The story was about a boarding house run by a stern and puritanical widow. When a young and attractive pensioner from Norway moves in and does gymnastics in the nude, the other guests one by one get naughty and start having sex. It was daft even by porn standards. What was worse, the film's cast, except for one actress, was unattractive, and the sex scenes were lame. I had half a mind to stop watching and go back to bed, but I held out hope that there would be at least one good sex scene with the one attractive actress.

Towards the end of the film, the widow who owns the boarding house has thrown out all her guests. Depressed, she sits by the fireplace and starts looking through a large pile of erotic photographs and magazines left behind by one of the guests, first with revulsion, then with mounting curiosity and excitement. This leads to a weird (and clumsily edited) fantasy / dream sequence mixing flashbacks from the film so far with snippets from other 1970s erotic films. It was this fantasy sequence where things suddenly became very interesting, because many of these little snippets showed men and women whipping each other.

I was dumbfounded. Then ecstatic. The segment that made the biggest impression on me showed a man, who appeared to be a monk judging by his robes, lifting a woman's dress and thrashing her bottom with a short whip. I thought it was probably the sexiest thing I had ever seen. As is often the case with such Eureka experiences, it seemed as if someone had read my thoughts - rather, my erotic fantasies - and put this image I had always dreamed about right there in front of me, into the film. But the fact was, it wasn't me who had created that scene in the film, it was someone else. In this instant, it was clear that I was not the only person in the world who found depictions of spanking and CP erotic. Whoever had filmed this scene had the same fascination.

In the mainstream films, the whippings of sailors and other such CP scenes were not made to be erotic. But this scene clearly was. The young woman was whipped on her naked bottom. The monk was obviously enjoying it, grinning with sadistic glee. It was plain as day that this was intended to be an arousing scene, conceived by someone and produced for an audience who got excited by depictions of spanking and CP. There were other brief snippets of whipping in the sequence, including some F/M, but none were as good in my mind as the monk and the sexy lass.

Fortunately, the film was shown again the next night, at an even later time. I nicked a blank video cassette from my parents (they had so many that they did not notice) and recorded the scene so I could rewatch it whenever I wanted. One or two house moves later, I lost the cassette. I've been trying for years to find that whipping scene again. It is brief and very average, nothing special at all really, but it was the first glimpse of erotic corporal punishment I ever saw and held tremendous nostalgic value for me. But I did not remember the title of the film and it was such an old, obscure production that I searched in vain for a long time. Only recently did I finally find out which film it was (I browsed through old German TV schedules which are available online): La pension du libre amour, France, 1974. It was shown on German TV under the title Pension zur freien Liebe.

 (Whipping scene from La pension du libre amour)
In the following years, I found a few more decent spanking and CP scenes on television. I recorded them on my precious video cassette, the seed of a collection. I learned from passing mentions in magazine articles and books that some people had what was called an inclination for sadomasochism and practiced what was called BDSM. It was all rather simplified and superficial and left open a lot of questions. Was sadomasochism a sickness or not? Did it apply to me? I recognised that my faible for spanking scenes in films had something to do with this strange inclination, but I wasn't sure if I would like spanking in practice or if I ever wanted to try it out. So I probably wasn't a "true" sadomasochist. In any case, I was a virgin at the time and hadn't even experienced "normal" sex. The possibility of ever trying out BDSM seemed so remote and improbable that I never seriously thought about it.

By the turn of the millennium, I was an adult and online. The internet made finding kinky stuff so much easier. Not only were there websites listing CP scenes from mainstream films, like the fabulous Whipping Scenes in Movies Database. There was also a huge amount of porn showing real spankings, strappings, canings and so on. I was astonished by how many such videos existed and how widespread they were. Even porn paysites that featured mostly mainstream content often had some CP clips as well. Apparently, the number of people who were into this was much bigger than I had imagined.

This was the time when a video file of 10 MB was considered large and took a significant amount of time to download. Consequently, most of the CP I saw consisted of clips 10 to 30 seconds long. I found out later that many of my favourite snippets from that time were from California Star's English Discipline Series. Over the next couple of years, my internet connection gradually became faster and the files bigger. I discovered the Beach Girl Spankings videos by Raven Hill, which were interesting because of their "reality TV" vibe. Then, another major Eureka moment as I stumbled upon my first Rigid East film. The Czechs, who later became Lupus Pictures, made exactly the kind of CP video I had long fantasized about: very severe canings, great-looking girls, good stories, professional production. I wrote about the impact their videos had on me in my post The Company of Wolves.

While my video collection grew to be quite vast and I saw more and more CP action on the screen, I still had no practical experience of any of this. I became increasingly aware of a feeling of discrepancy, for lack of a better word. For a very long time, I had been perfectly happy with just being a video voyeur. But now I began to seriously consider trying out spanking and CP for myself, if only to get an insight into how it felt like for the spankees in the videos I so enjoyed. But how to go about it? I did not know anybody in the BDSM scene. Online, I had chatted with a couple of fellow video collectors who were just as clueless about real kink as me. That was the full extent of my acquaintances.

In the next instalment, I will tell you how I progressed from gray theory to the green of life's golden tree (to abuse Goethe's phrase). In the meatime, if you like, you can share your own story in the comments section. Did you also wonder if you were perhaps the only person in the world who was fascinated by corporal punishment? How did you find out that there were others? What was the first great, erotic CP scene you saw in a film? How did your kink develop while you were a young adult?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Naughty or Nice?

December 6th is St. Nicholas Day in Germany. So, tell me, have you been naughty or nice?

Maybe you want to sit on Mrs Santa's lap and tell her about all the good deeds and the naughty things which you have done?

I guess some of you will end up over her knees for a good birching afterwards.

But maybe Mrs Santa also needs a taste of the birch herself from time to time?

Wishing you all a bright red bottom on St. Nicholas Day!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

(Probably) My Last Jolly Good Rant

Whenever I felt the need to have a jolly good rant about something on this blog, I published it with the tag "guerilla warfare". Out of 475 total posts at the time of this writing, 21 fall under that label. So Kaelah (who contributed some "guerilla warfare" pieces) and I haven't done an inordinate amount of ranting. Actually, compared to some other BDSM-themed blogs, we are rather tame. But we have had our share of rants over the years, and when we did, we always made sure that it wasn't just random raging and letting off steam, but backed up by good arguments as well.

I have ranted against reactionary tabloid rags, anti-porn feminists, hypocritical kinksters who live by the motto "Everyone kinkier than me is a pervert!", video pirates, live traffic feeds compromising the privacy of BDSM blog readers, and against the arbitrary censorship policy of online billing services. A good variety of targets. Most of the time, though, my opposition was against the advocates of censorship, whether they were politicians, political activists or even kinksters themselves. Admittedly, there is a healthy dose of self-interest in my stance, because I am into BDSM, have friends who are into BDSM and enjoy watching BDSM porn. But I have a more far-reaching motivation as well. I truly believe that how much freedom a society grants its citizens in regards to sexuality and the expression of sexuality in erotic literature or erotic films is a good yardstick for how much individual freedom a society grants its citizens in general. Those societies which are liberal towards porn tend to be liberal in other ways as well, and those who are restrictive towards porn tend to be restrictive in other ways as well. Therefore, there is a legitimate worry that, if the self-appointed moral guardians succeed in censoring porn which is produced by consenting adults, they will proceed to censor other forms of expression or opinions they dislike as well. All for the sake of "protecting minors" or "upholding family values", of course!

How about one more rant, then, before we close down the blog next spring? This will probably be my last one, and I am launching into it because of present events.

The UK has changed its law in regards to what kind of content porn producers can sell online as "video on demand". UK distributors are no longer allowed to sell content depicting bondage and gags, fisting, public sex, age play, facesitting, urination, female ejaculation, and spanking and caning beyond what is deemed “transient and trifling”.

Even as censorship legislation goes, this is a particularly idiotic and ill-conceived piece. Pandora Blake points out one if its many major inconsistencies:

With these restrictions, distributing images of acts which are legal to consensually practice – such as piss play, bondage and fisting – becomes illegal. It’s fine to do it, but not to sell images of it. Obscenity legislation is meant to prevent the publication of images which might corrupt those watching – in other words, stop people from being tempted to try something that is deemed “extreme”. But quite aside from whether porn does in fact corrupt (and the evidence shows that it doesn’t), if trying it would not actually be illegal, why do the images matter?

Why indeed? Hywel Phillips (Elegance Studios) is equally, and rightfully, incredulous:

Let’s just be clear about how ludicrous the very concept is before we get on to the grossly offensive nature of the restrictions they impose. We’re talking about acts which are entirely legal to do – like doing a BDSM scene with someone where someone is bound and gagged. Or spanking. Or female ejaculation. Or face-sitting. So it’s legal to do it. It’s legal to own pictures and video of it. It’s legal to make pictures and video of it. It’s legal to download it from a site outside the UK, even if the customer is in the UK.

But as of 1st December, it is no longer legal for a UK production team to show it to you.

If you downloaded exactly the same material from a non-UK based site it would be legal for them to sell it to you and legal for you to buy it, watch it and keep it.

What the actual fuck?

I suppose what astonishes me more than anything else is the utterly irrational and arbitrary nature of the list of sexual acts addressed by the legislation. It does not surprise me that those oh-so-awful BDSM practices like bondage, spanking and caning are being targetted - unfortunately, that is to be expected, as they are old favourites of the censors. But why on Earth would anyone want to criminalise the depiction of female ejaculation? What is so threatening about a woman having a squirty orgasm? I suppose it falls outside the scope of Victorian sexual mores, and apparently that is enough for it to be deemed "obscene".

Ironically, then, the legislation turns out to be rather patriarchal and anti-feminist - it is still okay for UK producers to sell depictions of male ejaculation, but not female. Moreover, the legislation disproportionately affects producers of BDSM and spanking porn and, because of the criminalisation of fisting, of gay and lesbian porn as well.

Other kinky bloggers have already made a compelling, richly argued case for why this law is wrong and harmful. Pandora Blake's piece, in particular, is excellent. She also provices a great link list of the media coverage so far, which contains more articles worth reading. All that remains for me to do is urge you to make your voice heard if you are kinky and a UK citizen. You could, for instance...

...write to your MP.
...sign this petition or another one on 38 Degrees.
...donate to the anti-censorship campaign of Backlash UK.
...come to a protest outside Parliament at midday on Friday, December 12th.

Kaelah and I are neither British nor professional spanking porn producers, so the legislation does not concern us directly. But we are friends with Pandora and others from the UK, and would like to see them produce more great videos without having to worry about legal repercussions. And we know that many of our readers are from the UK. So we would like to express our support for your cause and send you our very best wishes. Good luck!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kaelah's Corner (Nov 2014):
Life Is A Rollercoaster

(Answering the question: What to wear to a spanking party?)

This is the second Kaelah's Corner post in which I will look back at my time as a kinky blogger and member of the spanking community. In part one of the series I wrote about my first year as a blogger and what co-writing this blog with Ludwig meant to me.

Having got lots of positive responses on my Kaelah's Corner posts encouraged me to become even more active on this blog. I felt that Ludwig had found his place here in the kinky community and I wanted to be accepted as his equal mate. This meant not only to be more visible online but also to meet fellow kinksters in real life.

For me, this proved to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand I enjoyed the adventures of meeting new people and even dipping my toes into the production of amateur spanking clips. On the other hand I sometimes felt that it was all a bit overwhelming – reading about so many different lifestyles on all the blogs, playing with others in front of a camera and putting myself out there in pictures and my personal writing.

I think this struggle also became obvious in my writing. There were lots of posts about Ludwig's and my adventures. We invited our readers for the first time to take part in the development of a creative spanking clip by voting for a costume and implement in my first blogiversary post. The crazy result was published one year later, quite some time after my very first spanking clip. I also wrote about my first film-making experience with Pandora Blake. The clips are still to be published, but Ludwig and I will make sure that this will happen before we shut down this blog. Then there were my posts about our clip-making with Leia-Ann Woods, in which I wrote about the scary prospect and the fun of topping on camera for the first time. I also posted more and more kinky pictures of myself, like these ones taken in the snow. Taking kinky photos proved to be something I enjoy very much, until this very day.

But there were also many critical discussions and philosophical ramblings about things which I had stumbled across in the kinky community that got my attention and often scared me. For instance, there was a post titled I Did That! which referred to a comment made by a top about spanking pictures showing very severe marks. That post led to a very lively and great discussion among our readers. I discussed the topic of trust from a bottom's and a top's perspective. Then I wrote about Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs and why the book disturbed me. Plus, there was a series of posts about the questions whether spanking could be used as a kind of therapy, whether it was okay to speculate about other people's kinks and the question whether certain lifestyles are healthy or not and what discussions about certain lifestyles reveal about ourselves. I also became part of a heated discussion on another blog and tried to sort out my thoughts in a post called R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Altogether it was a very turbulent time. It was wonderful to meet lovely new people and quite a few of the famous spanking bloggers like Abel and Indy as well as spanking models like Adele Haze, Pandora and Leia-Ann whose posts I had been reading. But it was also quite overwhelming and sometimes I had the feeling that I didn't really fit into the kinky community. I got a bit more relaxed about certain things over time, but that's another story.

How about you? Can you remember your first steps in the kinky online and offline community? Are you maybe just right in the midst of the process? Was/Is it all thrilling and fascinating or also sometimes frightening? Please feel invited to share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Uniform Fetish

It's not a secret. I have a uniform fetish. I think it is the touch of formality, honour and power that makes uniforms so attractive for me. Plus, in my opinion most people look smart in uniforms. Maybe my crush on uniforms also has to do with the fact that quite a few books / films / series which I like and which feed my kinky fantasies have to do with them. Be it books I loved to read as a child like Rin Tin Tin or films like Police Academy or the TV series universe of Star Trek.

When Ludwig and I recently visited a naval museum, we came across a section where one could try on different uniforms for fun and take photos. Unfortunately we didn't wear fitting clothes underneath, most of the uniforms were a bit too big for me and the lighting wasn't too good. But I guess you get the idea from the pictures. Ludwig looks good in his uniform, doesn't he?

In another museum I saw the uniform above and the picture of a naval academy below. Of course I had to take photos. I wonder which kind of uniform is the most attractive one for me. Certain naval uniforms are extremely beautiful for sure. And I love kinky naval scenarios. I think a police uniform would be my second choice.

How about you? Do you have a uniform fetish? If yes, for which kind of uniforms and why?

Monday, November 24, 2014

Office Discipline (A LOL Day Clip)

The final LOL Day for Ludwig and me as bloggers has passed. Thank you very much to everyone who left a comment! It was wonderful to read comments written by old friends and hear from readers who haven't written a comment in a long time. And of course we were especially happy to welcome a few true delurkers, namely an anonymous lurker, taurusegest and Katie. We hope to hear more from you in the future.

Many of you also participated in our LOL Day vote. We offered you to publish a caning clip for free and you had the choice between three options: The Ballgown, A Bedtime Caning and Office Discipline. There was a short information about the three clips in our LOL Day post, but to make the vote more interesting, we didn't tell you everything about them. Only that one of the videos is F/M and the other two M/F and one caning is over the clothes while the other two are on the bare.

The vote was really close (votes from first-time commenters counted twice), but in the end we had a winner.
Ludwig did all the editing in high speed to make sure that the clip would be ready in time. And so we present Office Discipline today! Here is the result of the vote:

Office Discipline (8 votes):
Anonymous Lurker (first-time commenter)
taurusegest (first-time commenter)

The Ballgown (6 votes):
Secret Spanko
New one

A Bedtime Caning (4 votes):
Downunder Don
Katie (first-time commenter)

Some of the comments made me grin. First of all, there was Chross who suspected that A Bedtime Caning might be the F/M clip. Nope, it isn't! And then there was Secret Spanko who explained his choice like this: It's a tough call- I like the idea of disrobing from a classy ballroom gown, I like the idea of an intimate bedroom scene, and the office scene is an archetype for good reason- it's hot to think about. But I'll go with the classy ballroom, because as y'all struggle with been there, done that... well, that scene seems to be the most original. Well, I am not really sure how archetypical our Office Discipline video really is (those who know us a bit might have realised that Ludwig and I rather enjoy playing with archetypes and expectations) – but decide for yourselves!

This is the plot in a few sentences: Mr Ludwig is a kind but ambitious boss, who sets very high standards. His secretary is used to Mr Ludwig's expectations and work ethics, and tries to support him as best as she can. This involves a rather unusual ritual which takes place every week. Each Friday evening at 5 pm sharp it is time to look back and talk about the things which could be improved. And so Mr Ludwig's secretary dutifully knocks on his office door for their weekly jour fixe...

Here is the file for you to download:
WMV format, resolution 720 x 576, 99 MB: link

(Click on "Free Download", wait for the counter to count down, then solve the captcha and download the file.) 

The other two clips will of course be released as well, some time in the future. But for now we hope you enjoy the Office Discipline video. Please let us know if you like it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Frank and I (Part 3)

This is the final part of my series about the spanking novel Frank and I. Here are part 1 and part 2. In this final part I would like to share two scenes from the Lady Libertine with you, a movie from 1984 based on the novel Frank and I. The first scene is the one in which Charles Beaumont discovers during a caning that his protégé Frank is a woman.

The second scene which you find below is one which takes place quite some time later when Beaumont and Frances have become lovers. Charles Beaumont finds out that Frances has been spending time with a young man she was not supposed to meet. Frances offers to take a thrashing from his hands as a punishment.

I like the way the two scenes are filmed, I think the action is decent for a vanilla film. Of course, it is quite obvious that the whippings and the marks aren't real (this is an example the conspiracy theorists should watch before claiming that, for instance, Mood Pictures or Lupus Pictures show faked whippings). I find the filming good nonetheless.

I have to admit that I don't care too much for the vanilla sex scenes, though. And there are quite a few differences between the movie and the book, about which I want to say a few words.

First of all, there are many more spanking scenes in the book than in the film. I don't like all of them, but there is one main difference which annoys me about the movie: In the book, it is made very clear that Charles Beaumont is a spanko. He sexually enjoys dishing out a thrashing. Not so in the movie.

There are five corporal punishment scenes in the movie. The two shown above, one that shows Frances being slippered by the brothel keeper, one (which I think takes place off screen) in which Charles Beaumont slippers the brothel keeper as revenge for Frances' mistreatment and finally one in which the ladies at the brothel enact a judicial whipping. The last scene is the only one which is sexually loaded, but Charles Beaumont doesn't really seem to enjoy it and it is made clear that the show stage whipping is faked.

What's more, after the second scene which I have shared with you in this post, Charles Beaumont tosses away the crop and it is implied that he never spanks Frances again. I think it is sad that even in a sex film the video makers obviously didn't like the idea of showing spanking as a sexual kink which can be fun.

The second main difference is how the plot unfolds. In the movie, Frances announces to Charles Beaumont that she is going to leave him after he has chastised her for talking to the other guy. But then Charles Beaumont offers to marry her and show the world that he is truly hers and so they stay together and live happily ever after.

Maybe I am the only one who isn't so much into these clichéd "all a woman really wants is to be married and then all is well" storylines. Well, okay, sometimes I love these fairy tale endings, too. But I have to admit that I like the story which is told in the book more because I think it is more realistic given the traits of the characters involved while not being sad.

In the book, Frances decides to leave Charles Beaumont and get married to another man because she knows that Charles is likely to leave her once she gets older and doesn't catch his sexual interest as much anymore. Her husband is a widower with two children. Frances is faithful to her husband whose children she also raises and so her relationship with Charles Beaumont ends. But then her husband dies and Charles and Frances revive their love relationship.

By the way, in my opinion the book implies that Frances also enjoys a bit of kink. For instance, she lures her stepchildren's governess, Miss Martin, into letting Frances whip her. Partly, the scene is for Charles' eyes who is watching secretly, but it seems that Frances is having fun as well.

Still, Charles Beaumont and Frances don't stay together. Frances falls in love with another man, Mr Gilbert, tells Charles about it and even asks him to give her away as her guardian. Again, Frances is faithful to her new husband and asks Charles not to touch her anymore when she tells him about Mr Gilbert's proposal. Charles Beaumont obliges immediately and also gives her away at the wedding.

I very much like the ending of the book because it implies that both Charles and Frances are quite happy with the lives they have chosen and remain in contact with each other as affectionate friends. So I want to end my series about the book by sharing the last paragraphs of the book with you:

The last few days before the marriage slipped away rapidly, and uneventfully; the wedding day arrived, and then, according to my promise, I gave Frances away. She was exquisitely dressed, in the most perfect taste; and though she was thirty years old, she was still a very beautiful woman, and I felt a pang of regret at knowing that I should never again poke her, or even have the pleasure of feeling her plump bottom or her firm bubbies.

At the wedding breakfast there was a large party of guests, including a number of the bridegroom's relatives; the usual speeches were made, and everything passed off well.

Frances was in good spirits; and just before she left the room to put on her travelling-dress, she drew me aside out of sight of the guests, and giving me a kiss, said: "Charley, I love my husband and I will be faithful to him; but I shall never forget how kind you have been to me, from the day you took me into your house, up to the present moment."

I clasped a bracelet on her wrist, as a wedding present, and kissing her for the last time, bade her good bye; then she ran upstairs to her room.

In a short time she came down, dressed for her journey; and then the newly-married couple got into their carriage, and were driven off, amid showers of rice, to Charing Cross station, en route for Italy, where they intended to spend their honeymoon.

And so, for the second and last time, my sweetheart passed out of my life.

Next day I went home to Oakhurst, and settled down to my old life as a country gentleman.

Five years have passed since the last lines were written, and I again take up my pen to put the finishing touches to the story.

Frances is now a buxom matron, thirty-five years old, with two little children. She and her husband are perfectly happy; they are very well-off, and they live in London half the year; and I am always a welcome guest at their house whenever I choose to go there. Gilbert and I are very good friends; as he has not the faintest suspicion that I ever was anything to Frances but her "guardian." She has quite a daughterly affection for me, and whenever we meet we talk and laugh about the old days.

Miss Martin, after leaving Frances, got a good situation as governess in a family, where she remained until she heard of her husband's death in South America. Then she married again. I have never seen her since.

Frances' two step-children live with their father's relations: but they often visit their stepmother, and I have frequently seen them. Robert is sixteen years old, and is studying for the army. Dora is nineteen years old, and has grown- as I knew she would-into a magnificent young woman, tall and shapely, and most "divinely fair." She is engaged to be married.

My story is finished, and though I am fifty years of age, I am in good health, and I can still "look upon the wine when it is red," and I can also still enjoy a pretty girl.

But often, in the long winter evenings, when I am sitting all alone in my big dining-room after dinner, I think of the "boy Frank" whom I had picked up on the road twenty years before, and who had eventually turned out to be a loving, faithful woman.