|Your cart is currently empty|
"I found this peculiar document in a writing desk I purchased for just a few dollars in a run-down little junk shop in London. In a jammed drawer I found a jumble of papers that I took to be letters.
As I began to read,,I realized that the pages weren't letters at all, but a sort of journal, written over a hundred years ago,, by a woman with a fairly good education, a big mouth and a really bad temper. The writer claims to be related to the famous writer, H.G. Wells, and writes about an amazing voyage through time. I know, ridiculous, right?
Maybe, but there's something about the thing that rings true. She was certainly a giant pain in the ass, and a major brat, as you'll see when you begin to read. This lady gets herself spanked a LOT, and it sounds like she had most of those spankings coming!
True? Not true? Your guess is as good as mine, but it makes a great read. Whatever you believe, you won't be bored."
Publisher's Note: A Glitch in Time is a great time travel-read for anyone who likes bratty heroines, long-suffering husbands, a good dose of history, with a Victorian flair.
The business of the fish tank, of course, had been an accident, a tiny error in judgment on my part, perhaps, but it could have happened to anyone at all� as I was attempting to explain to Edward before Uncle Herbert became so annoyed that he then stormed into the hallway to recommend violence. �Isn't it odd how those who go on so endlessly about the futility of war and violence in the world are the first to advocate it when something interferes with their reading of "The Times"?
"For God's sake, Edward, take the woman upstairs and do what is needed!" Uncle Herbert bellowed, in the gruff, bear-like manner that makes it so difficult for us to keep servants. "I am sick to death of all this nonsensical bickering! �I outlined in some detail when you married this brat how to deal with her tantrums, and you have obviously learned nothing at all from my own experience in raising the little hellion! �She needs spanking, man! �A corking good one at that! �I have guests arriving here in precisely one hour, which should give you more than sufficient time to deliver an excellent thrashing and then trundle her off to the nursery, which is where she belongs if she insists upon disrupting the entire household and disturbing my peaceful meditation of the evening news!"
Uncle Herbert drew his watch from his vest pocket and looked at the time. "I see the entire affair as requiring no more than three or four minutes of preparation, then four� no, five minutes of what should be extremely vigorous walloping, considering the nature of the offense. Throughout the event, and for a good fifteen minutes thereafter, of course, I will expect to be deafened by her customary screeches of feigned agony. �And then, she will lapse into the usual twenty minutes of sustained sniffling and pouting in a flagrantly dishonest effort at extracting a sniveling apology from you! �Which, given the fact that you are a damnable, feeble-minded and weak-willed idiot, you will no doubt supply!"
"By my calculations," he added, "the entire nauseating spectacle should be concluded in a maximum of forty-four minutes, allowing me just sixteen minutes of relative peace and quiet before my guests arrive. �Afterward, Edward, if you are not too warm from your exertions, you are welcome to join us in the drawing room. �Now, please divest the brat of her drawers, suspend her over whichever item of furniture required by the method you've selected, and blister her bottom thoroughly! Forty-four minutes from start to finish!"
Yes, this is how Uncle Herbert speaks. Uncle Herbert is always very precise. Uncle Herbert is a scientist.
And so, always eager to toady up to Uncle Herbert, Edward spanked me�with no justice whatever. In my opinion, (for which nobody around here gives a fig!) a great many of my spankings are delivered unjustly, but this specific spanking was certainly the most unendurable, because Edward did it in front of Uncle Herbert, and others! (Well, perhaps not in front of, but within hearing distance of two of the servants!)
Making an apparent effort to improve upon Uncle Herbert's timetable, Edward did not take me upstairs, but chose to "do it" right there in the library with Uncle Herbert just across the hall in the drawing room! He consumed just two minutes in "preparation," which consisted of upending me rudely over the arm of the sofa, tucking up my skirts and lowering my drawers to my knees. �Then, using my very own hairbrush, and with a good deal more ardor than necessary, he spanked my bare bottom until I was positively on fire! �To make matters worse, he allowed only ten minutes for my quite genuine weeping after he had finished, and positively forbade me to sniffle or pout! �Having eliminated several minutes from the "usual" schedule, Edward evidently added a portion of his saved time to the spanking itself, which lasted for exactly six horrible minutes (according to the clock on the mantle, which I was able to read only with a good deal of difficulty, being it was upside down, or perhaps because I was).� A record, at eighteen minutes from start to finish!
But there was more to come, I discovered. �When the accelerated ordeal was over, Edward made use of the remaining minutes to leave me bent miserably over the sofa�for an entire half hour, with my exposed bottom as red as the sofa itself. As I lay there, forbidden to make a sound, he sat calmly down in his favorite chair by the fire, put on his reading glasses, and read his copy of "The Times"! �While I was in this position, Margaret, the Welsh maid Uncle Charles had hired only last week, came in to stoke the fire, glanced at me, and barely raised an eyebrow, which might serve to illuminate the sort of thing that goes on in this house! �Two minutes later, as I struggled frantically to tug my clothing back into its proper place, the doorbell rang, and I was obliged to dash upstairs with my drawers still flapping open, as the first of Uncle Herbert's guests arrived�ten minutes early.
You will see, from the above, that time is an important issue in our, Edward's and mine, lives. �Like Uncle Herbert, Edward is also something of a scientist, and a former student of Uncle Herbert's (his most promising student, according to Uncle Herbert). �Which is why Edward was permitted to marry me, nine months ago, and why we are still living in the house where I grew up, in a quiet village outside London. �Uncle Herbert is quite as thrifty about money as he is about time, and Edward and I are as poor as church mice.
Edward spends his days editing Uncle Herbert's books and stories and helping Uncle Herbert with his tedious scientific experiments, which are conducted in the cellar and produce a variety of very disagreeable odors and sometimes minor explosions at all hours of the day and night. �Uncle Herbert has been married for many years to his second wife, my Aunt Jane. (Her real name is Amy Catherine, but she has, quite unaccountably, always been called Jane.) My aunt was Uncle Herbert's favorite student when he taught at the university. �They have two sons, who are now away at school and who are like my own brothers.
Aunt Jane is an extremely intelligent woman, and a wonderfully patient and forbearing one, as she must be to live with Uncle Herbert. �My Uncle Herbert is what is known as a free thinker in the matter of women, and there have been a number of children resulting from this "free thinking".� It has always seemed to me, on the other hand, that it is Aunt Jane who is the real "free thinker," for accepting Uncle Herbert's frequent indiscretions with such a patient and philosophical attitude and for welcoming all of these diverse children at family occasions.
"He is a man, my dear," she sighed, when I first broached the rather delicate topic of Uncle Herbert's extra-connubial offspring, "and some men regard a sexual liaison as little more than lunch. �It ill behooves me to complain, since I myself was an early item, as it were, on the luncheon menu."
(I should explain, perhaps, that I myself came about in the family's customary way, without benefit of marriage. �My own father was Uncle Herbert's brother, and on the death of my own parents, I was taken in by my aunt and uncle and have been here ever since. �Aunt Jane and Uncle Herbert are the only real parents I have ever known.)
Mind you, Uncle Hebert is in most other ways a very fine, dignified, and upright English gentleman, who harbors Noble Aspirations for the Human Race, about which he writes frequently. �He is a brilliant writer, very highly thought of in both literary and scientific circles.
Uncle Herbert's freethinking extends to a firm belief that women are quite as intelligent as men and in every way equal. �In this day and age, when women are not even permitted to vote, and when most men regard women as slightly more decorative and slightly less intelligent than goldfish, I believe Aunt Jane sees this as sufficient to make up for his periodic lapses in fidelity. Aunt Jane, as I have said earlier, is herself an extremely brilliant person and an independent one in most ways.
(I say most, because I have recently discovered that Aunt Jane is sometimes spanked by Uncle Herbert!)
Allow me to explain further. �As you might have already gathered, Uncle Herbert is not the most patient of men and more than once, as I grew up, I found myself being put over his knee and very soundly spanked for various infractions, generally having to do with academic sloth (which Uncle Herbert regards as a Waste of Human Potential, and as morally repugnant for the same reasons as cannibalism and organized religion). �When, at the end of my first year in college, I came home with the information that I was not going to return to school for my final exam of the year. �(I had not finished the required paper, and besides which, I thought school silly, and boring.) �Uncle Herbert listened carefully to my reasons, called me an illiterate and ungrateful nincompoop, and then sent Aunt Jane for the hairbrush. �Then, with no evident embarrassment whatever, he took me across his lap, pulled down my drawers to bare my bottom, and spanked me so long and hard that I bawled like a baby. �I returned to class the next morning with my paper completed and my aching bottom ablaze, to take the three hour written exam seated on an agonizingly hard wooden bench. �When my final grades arrived, I had passed, but barely, whereupon Uncle Herbert removed me to the library, bent me across his great walnut desk with my bottom again bare, and administered a strapping with his belt that I shall never forget, and that I was certainly loathe to have repeated. �My next term's grades, as you may have already supposed, were excellent.
When I complained that day to Aunt Jane that I was, after all, almost a grown woman now, and too old to spank, she only smiled and explained that even after years of marriage, Uncle Herbert still spanked her, "when necessary." �I found this revelation startling, and her words impossible to accept, in light of her attitudes and my own toward female equality. �I told her this quite frankly.
"When necessary!" I exclaimed, horrified. "And where, may I ask, is it written that men are allowed to decide when such abuse is 'necessary'?" Aunt Jane merely smiled again and pointed to her heart.
"In here, darling," she said, "and nowhere else. What happens between a man and a woman who truly love one another may sometimes seem very odd to others. �Your Uncle and I agreed upon this arrangement some years ago, when I was young and impulsive, as you are, and prone to squander my abilities. �So yes, I am sometimes spanked, but in some way, I am actually the one who decides when it is necessary. �I make that decision when I choose to behave in some way I have already promised not to, or wish that I hadn't. �Poor Herbert is often merely the executioner, who delivers the penalty I have assessed for myself.� Therefore," she laughed, "I graciously accept his correction, though more graciously at some times than others, of course!"
I did not believe this nonsense, of course, and until Edward and I shared the absolutely incredible experience I am about to relate, I had no idea at all of the wisdom of Aunt Jane's words.
But, to continue, I should explain that when Uncle Herbert is not inventing things or fathering another child out of wedlock, he writes his books�very famous books�which have made him a rich man and a respected one. �He has written a great many books, but his very first successful one was published when he was only twenty-nine years old, two years younger than Edward is now. �The book was called "The Time Machine," a subject about which he has done years of research and experimentation with Edward's help. �That book was to be the impetus for everything that happened in amazing journey, which Edward and I took together.
My Uncle Herbert's books and stories, should you wish to look for one of them in a bookseller's, are written under the name H. G. Wells.
* * * *
The following morning��the morning our astonishing adventure began�I was still very angry about my previous evening's "correction" when I came down to breakfast. �Edward, of course, had been up for hours, as he always is when he and Uncle Herbert are puttering in the cellar workshop. �Last night's meeting had been attended by several of Uncle Herbert's scientific associates, who waste a great many hours, in my opinion, discussing at length Uncle Herbert's ridiculous preoccupation with the project on which he and Edward had been working for the past three years, a full-scale working version of the fictional "Time Machine". �When the book appeared, all those years ago, it was widely rumored that the story's primary character, The Time Traveler was, in reality, Uncle Herbert himself. �Claptrap, in Uncle Herbert's own blunt words, but the idea has never been far from his thoughts since, and now that he has the funds with which to pursue the idea, it has become his obsession.
Indeed, even the painful spanking I had received only last evening was connected to this Time Machine rubbish. My unjust chastisement had been Edward's revenge for my having thrown a large portfolio of his drawings and papers from the landing and onto his head after a quarrel over this very nonsense. �It was my misfortune that a number of the silly, incomprehensible documents landed not on Edward, as I intended, but in Uncle Herbert's hallway aquarium, where he maintains in a vast tank several of the most unattractive, slimy, and gruesome specimens of aquatic life imaginable. �"In homage," Uncle Herbert says solemnly, "to one of the greatest minds of our time." (Uncle Herbert's hero is the writer, Mr. Jules Verne, who penned an equally famous book concerning a mad undersea scientist who dines on revolting sea creatures and is eventually eaten by one, if I remember correctly?)
Not only were Edward's idiotic papers made soggy and unreadable by what was meant as a humorous gesture, but at least two of Uncle Herbert's odious pets succumbed and died gasping under a hall rug before their absence from the tank was noticed. �It was at this juncture that Edward undertook the spanking that began this entire episode in our lives.
After several months of marriage, and a great many frustrating arguments, I had consented, with some trepidation, to a similar disciplinary arrangement with my own new husband as Aunt Jane had confessed to having with Uncle Herbert. �Edward's and my own arrangement was still in what we had agreed would be a trail phase, but after last night's totally unjust spanking, I had decided that morning to withdraw my consent. �Edward still believed the arrangement had improved my admittedly volatile temper, as well as my often foolishly impetuous behavior, and while I secretly agreed with that opinion, I had come downstairs that morning with the firm intention of canceling the arrangement entirely.
When I didn't find Edward downstairs in the library or drawing room, I knew he would be in the cellar restoring his drowned papers. �And so he was, humming contentedly at his desk and scribbling incomprehensible figures on a chart, totally unaware that I had come into the laboratory.
It has always been Edward's custom, after a serious spanking, to apologize to me and to make up (in the loveliest imaginable manner). �Perhaps because of Uncle Herbert's comments, however, Edward had come to bed last night without waking me to apologize in the usual way, without placing the usual tiny bouquet on my pillow, and without pampering me at breakfast the next morning. �It is one thing to endure a painful and humiliating spanking and to be afflicted with a red bottom which stings atrociously even the next morning. �It is quite another thing for the person responsible for that burning bottom not to offer a proper and contrite apology.
"Have you nothing at all to say to me?" I demanded, causing Edward to jump almost out of his chair. �He recovered his composure a bit too quickly to please me, however, and went immediately back to work. �"Good morning," he said. "Did you sleep well?"
There was a hint of sarcasm in the question that further angered me. �"No, I did not sleep well, as you very well know, you pig!"
I don't know. �It seemed a good word.� I had considered vicious brute, or unfeeling beast but theatrical phrases of that nature always sound better from the lips of a more imposing figure than myself, such as Sarah Bernhardt or the lovely Mrs. Campbell. �When Edward turned around, I could tell from the look in his eye that he did not approve of my choice of words.
I should say here that Edward had never before spanked me twice in any given twenty- four hour period, but suddenly it occurred to me that that such a thing might be imminent. Edward did not seem especially well-rested, which always makes him a bit testy, and my nervousness was increased by the presence in his hand of a very wide, long wooden ruler, which he had been using only seconds before my arrival.
"Did you just call me a pig, my love?" he asked in a pleasant voice. �Try as I might, I couldn't bring to mind a homonym to pass off the word as incorrectly heard, other than prig, which would have made little sense in the current context, and in Edward's case, none at all. (I will explain this remark at a later, more private moment.)
"Uh, well, not exactly," I replied with the swiftness of wit for which I am known.
"I had hoped to find you in a more congenial frame of mind this morning," he said, putting his papers to one side. �He began to tap the ruler against his thigh. "But I finally saw last evening that Herbert has been absolutely right about all this. �I've been inconsistent and weak-kneed. �But that, my love, is about to change."
I backed up just a step or two, intending to go back upstairs until Edward's own frame of mind had improved.
"I'm sorry to have interrupted your work, darling," I chirped sweetly in a tone neither of us believed. "I'll just go upstairs now and finish the sketch I began this week of the house. I want to give it to Aunt Jane for..."
"You can sketch later, Abigail. �Right now, there is the matter of your calling me a pig this early in the morning, before I've even had my coffee." (Edward was born in Philadelphia and insists upon downing an entire pot of this American swill each and every morning.)
"You surely don't expect to spank me again?" I cried.
"Oh, but I do." He smiled and slapped the ruler against his palm with a loud crack, "but much differently this time, over the tall stool there with your skirt up."
"Uncle Herbert may come in," I protested. "And besides, I've decided just this morning that I don't want to do this any longer!"
"He and Jane are out shopping, and the staff is off for the entire morning. �The house is empty, my love. �You may howl and kick and shriek to your heart's content, and call me every filthy name in your extensive vocabulary, but this spanking will proceed! �After which, you will stand in that corner with your backside ablaze and your nose to the wall to consider your many sins, while I enjoy the view. �This evening, we will discuss the arrangement again, and if you still wish to discontinue it, I'll honor your wishes. �But now, you are about to be spanked in a manner I hope will make up for six months of half-hearted and apparently wasted effort."
Behind me, sitting on a low wooden platform and looking very much like a gaudy Christmas ornament, was Uncle Herbert's "Time Machine." �It was my intention, when I moved closer to it, to simply put a more comfortable distance between myself and Edward's ruler, but instead, I got up on the platform and plopped down on the saddle-like seat in the center of the device.
"Stay exactly where you are," I demanded, "and we will discuss it now, with you there, and me seated here."
"Get out of there," he snapped irritably. "If you break anything, there'll be Hell to pay."
"I'm not a fool, Edward. �I don't wish to get electrocuted, and I won't harm anything. What on earth is this glass thing, anyway?"
When I touched the crystal bar that extended across the machine's smallish interior, the machine seemed to lurch, and a flash of tremendously bright light filled the room. I heard Edward's shout as though from a very great distance, and then, for a moment, I seemed to lose consciousness.� When I came to, the machine and I were sitting across the room, and Edward was kneeling beside me with his hand on my forehead. �He was shouting something and shaking me.
"Please quit screaming in my ear," I complained. "I'm not hurt. �I received a small electrical shock, that's all."
"Abby!" he said urgently. "You don't understand.� The machine moved.� You need to get out, at once!"
"It probably tipped and fell," I suggested with an irritable wave of my hand, "when you leapt in here like that. �If the foolish device is broken, it will be entirely your fault, and I will expect you to tell Uncle Herbert that."
"Darling," he breathed, his face still showing fright. "I tell you, it disappeared. �Just for a second, and then it reappeared all the way over here, yet� and yet I didn't see it move."
"Not surprising," I scoffed. "You were more interested in assaulting me with your damned ruler than..."
Enunciating every word very slowly, as though I had suddenly lost my wits, he explained. "The machine disappeared, Abigail, with you in it. �It seemed like only a second, but according to my watch, it was three hours." �He thrust his watch before my face to show me the time, and I began to laugh.
"Your silly watch," I laughed, "is probably in need of repair, not unlike your mind, which you appear to be losing. �All I did, darling, was to push this..."
"Don't!" he cried, and threw his arms around me to prevent my reaching the bar.
I tapped the crystal lever again, not hard really, with less force than I might press down the key of a spinet.
* * * *
I will not be able to adequately describe here either the sequence of events that occurred next, or the physical and visual consequences of that slight but portentous movement. �To describe in concrete terms that which has neither substance, nor time, nor color, nor taste would mean little or nothing. �To describe to another person, in meaningful terms, an experience he has neither seen or felt, nor ever will see or feel, is almost beyond our capabilities.� How much more difficult then, to describe an experience unlike anything in even the narrator's experience? Consider, for example, explaining the concept of blue to a person who has been without sight since birth, who has never seen the sky, or a mountain lake, or his mother's eyes. �Next, consider how that first blind person might describe the concept to yet another sightless person. �What misapprehensions about what it is to be blue would pass between them?
What happened in that infinitesimal fraction of a millisecond seemed to be as much an electrical discharge in my brain as anything real; a random, fleeting fragment of thought, perhaps, an ephemeral glimpse of something unremembered even by myself. �If that makes no sense at all, and I'm sure it does not, then you will perhaps understand that whatever I write here is not real, in any intelligent sense, but a vague perception of a dimly-registered sensation, and nothing more. �As I sit here today, with pen and paper in hand, I cannot promise that it even happened.
Primarily, there was color. �As an artist, all of my thought processes include light and color; color, not only as a tangible thing, but also as it denotes emotion and sensation. �Thus, my experience that evening was of an incredible radiance of light and of color. �(I spent some months in the North of Scotland once, where, for the first time, I witnessed the phenomenon called the Aurora Borealis, which on some level mimicked this, but only in the faintest sense, as cheap cologne mimics the first armful of spring lilacs.)
White, at first; white perceived not as colorless, but incandescent and vibrantly alive, and so dazzling in its brilliance that it approached pain to look at it. �Then, the whiteness seemed to explode, fragmenting into millions upon millions of individual prisms of color. �I descended into a vortex of color, whirling madly through showers of purple and Gentian violet, and then magenta. �Then, a further descent into a field of perhaps cerulean blue, where streaks of light and luminescent color of impossible and unnamable hues seemed to ripple and undulate in waves behind my eyelids. �And then, there was a rapid, breathless rush through interminable space, into the deepest blue an artist can create on a palette and still call his creation blue. �A blue that was seemingly alive with stars and comets whizzing past at too great a velocity to recognize, but only to sense. �And, then, abruptly, there was nothing but a black and utter silence.
It has taken me two years to compose the above paragraphs, and yet now, my entire description seems ludicrously pallid and lifeless. �I fear that the experience is, and may remain forever, impossible to describe.
* * * *
The landing, if that is what one can call it, will be simpler to describe. �It was something, I would imagine, not unlike smashing into a brick wall, or perhaps a large oak tree while driving in a modern motorcar going at its maximum rate of speed. �At one moment, there was a perception of unearthly speed, a rushing of wind, and the next moment, a violent halt.
For some moments, both Edward and I simply sat and said nothing. �I felt dazed and somewhat nauseous, and my entire body seemed to tingle, as though a mild current was passing through it. �Later, Edward reported a similar sensation, couching his own sensations in more scientific terms, of course. �I felt flushed, as though I had been too long in the sun, yet at the same time, my limbs were extraordinarily cold and numb. �My arms and legs felt heavy, their movement sluggish.
The machine had done something, although it was, at this moment, uncertain what it had done. �For, whereas, only moments earlier we had been inside, we were now, quite obviously outside, on a rutted and dusty road, beside a small stone bridge.
"Well," I said, when I could finally catch my breath. "I must say that, as impressive as this device is in having gotten us from indoors to outdoors, it seems like a great deal of noise and bother for very little. �It appears that we, at least, are exactly as we left, except that my hair is unspeakably mussed and I have somehow lost a shoe during transport. �I believe we may have ended up in Cyrus Pettigrew's cow pasture. �Isn't this the charming little bridge near his barn?"
Edward rubbed his forehead where a small lump was beginning to form. �His mood had not changed, and in fact, seemed to be worsening, and he still clutched the ruler that had caused all this trouble in the first place.
"No, Abigail," he snapped. "This is not Mr. Pettigrew's charming little bridge. �This is a different bridge, entirely, and God only knows where it is!"
"Well, you needn't be so disagreeable, Edward." I pouted. "I'm sure we can't have come far, and think how thrilled Uncle Herbert will be to learn that his silly machine works, and that it has managed to move us down the road a bit, to somewhere or another. �I cannot tell you how delighted and excited I am to find such a thing possible! �I'm sure that the two of you will be written up in all the scientific journals. �Maybe we shall be rich and famous in our own right. Still, I believe that such a device may have a somewhat limited practicality, don't you? �It would seem easie