Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Heroine of Havisham Hall - Part 8

It soon became apparent to all the Havisham Hall staff, and particularly to Miss Craftey, that the new junior maid Betsy had become Madam's latest special favourite.   Miss Craftey was not at all pleased.  It was only a matter of months since she had managed to make the life of Madam's previous favourite - an effeminate young boy who had tried to pretend he was a girl - so miserable that he had decided to run away, never to be seen since.   Now, no sooner had this Betsy arrived than she was being singled out for special services to Madam, even to the extent of being invited to serve her nightly cocoa in Madam's private boudoir.

Of course Miss Craftey realised that, unlike that previous favourite, Betsy could not possibly be a boy.  She was so girlish in every way, that there was no possibility that she too could turn out to be one of those effeminate young transvestites.   Ever since Madam's mother and father, Sir Henry and Lady Havisham, had been tragically killed in that dreadful car crash - leaving the young Gloria as the sole heir to their Estate and the vast wealth which came with it - Miss Craftey had managed to impose her will upon all the inhabitants of Havisham Hall, including Gloria, and, as she could not stand the male of the species, had ensured that the household remained entirely "drone-free".   That is, until that young thing called "Alice" turned out to be "Alec".   So she had to resort to imposing the harshest of disciplinary regimes upon the young lad and soon succeeded in driving him away.  No-one quite knew what had happened to the boy but, Miss Craftey now reflected with pride, at least she could safely say that he had been the only male intruder ever to venture into her all-female domain.

But, even though Betsy so obviously satisfied her female-only rule, Miss Craftey really could not tolerate the way Madam had so blatantly now adopted this new girl as her personal favourite.  Up to now she had always managed to bend Madam's will to her own - in much the same way as she did when Madam, as "Miss Gloria", was a teenager - but Miss Craftey soon began to realise that it was now going to be very difficult to prevent this special relationship between the lady of the house and the new scullery maid from blossoming.   She thought long and hard as to how she could put a stop to the friendship before it got out of hand.  But with the additional burden of receiving some extremely important guests of Madam's in the very near future, this was hardly the time to confront such a threat to her own authority.

                                               *              *             *              *

The first few days after his arrival at Havisham Hall had proved to be a traumatic period for Jack as he adjusted to life as the junior housemaid, or "scullery maid" as Miss Craftey insisted on calling him.   Every move he made seemed to be monitored closely by the fearsome housekeeper and, with the stunning new hairstyle which Linda had created for him, he was - to his embarrassment - rapidly becoming the envy of all the other staff.   Young Annabelle, the very pretty parlourmaid with whom Jack was now sharing a bedroom, had previously been nicknamed "the Belle of the Hall" but it seemed that Jack was now rapidly taking over this mantle, for better or worse.

It didn't exactly help the situation when, after a few days as scullery maid, Miss Havisham insisted that Jack (or "Betsy" as he had become known to all at Havisham Hall) should be promoted to parlourmaid, with the requirement to wear the shortest of the household's extensive collection of parlourmaid uniforms, together with seamed silk stockings and four-inch heels, so that guests could "appreciate the full splendour of this lovely child in all her splendour".   Moreover, when Miss Craftey had  eventually opened the suitcase which had been packed for Jack and inadvertently left in the car when he arrived several days earlier, she had discovered a huge collection of lipsticks, eye-liner, mascara and other beauty products which she took great delight in showing to Miss Havisham.   Needless to say, Madam then encouraged her "Betsy" to make maximum use of the make-up, both during the day and in the evening, so there was no respite for Jack from the "pretty doll" role that he had now acquired.  As he spent his days constantly hearing references to "Miss World" and other taunts, Jack privately cursed Rose, his mother's maid who had packed his case for him, no doubt with the firm intention of further embarrassing him with its contents when they were revealed.  It had also contained, Jack discovered, a range of beautiful and expensive lingerie, silky flowing nighties and peignoirs, several pairs of silk stockings and two pairs of black, high-heeled court shoes.

Seeing all his possessions had only served to heighten Miss Havisham's growing admiration for Jack's youthful beauty and femininity.   So Jack's life had now become one of being permanently "on show" to Madam's guests, or to Madam herself.  As parlourmaid he was constantly summoned by various bells which Madam rejoiced in ringing at all times of the day, whether from the morning-room, or the dining-room or the drawing-room, and whether or not she was expecting guests or just simply wanted to spend a little more time admiring her "lovely girlish boy".   She periodically reminded Jack, when they were alone together, that he was of course still a boy, and that she intended to keep him that way, but that no-one else in the household was ever to discover his secret...

With such a treasure to display, Miss Havisham now enjoyed nothing more than to invite her friends round for morning coffee, or a light lunch or afternoon tea, and to have her "prettiest of parlourmaids" greet them at the front door, take their coats, show them through to wherever Madam was sitting, and of course serve their drinks.   Madam would then require Jack to stand silently in the corner of the room, in his beautiful uniform, while she entertained her guests.  On these occasions Jack heard his mistress tell each and every one of these guests all about the party she was throwing for the imminent visit of the world-famous actress Dame Olivia Laurence and her friend Lady Lavinia Lovelace.

One morning, when Jack was looking especially pretty in his latest figure-hugging parlourmaid's uniform, complete with a beautiful "broderie anglaise" lacy bib apron and the ever-present little lace cap, he answered the door to a well-dressed middle-aged lady and a rather less smart,and rather awkward, teenage girl who was looking decidedly uncomfortable in a blouse and skirt.  To his horror Jack immediately recognised them both but, being the very calm and discreet maid that he now was, he quietly enquired their names, took their coats and showed the two ladies through to the drawing-room.

"Mrs Franklin and Miss Melissa Franklin to see you, Madam" he announced as they entered the room.   Only then did a glint of recognition start to become apparent on the faces of the two visitors. Was this not the same shy voice that they had heard in the street a few days earlier, when they encountered Miss Strang from the Stuyvesant Academy and her beautiful niece in the pretty peach blouse?   What was Miss Strang's niece now doing working as one of Gloria Havisham's maids?

(to be continued)


Anonymous said...

Aha! I thought those Franklins from the previous Amongst Women series might re-appear at some stage. I seem to remember they very nearly recognized Jack then so they will soon work out what is going on wont they ?

Anonymous said...

This story is starting to get very embarrassing for Jack. We had to go back and read the Amongst Women episodes to find out how Jack had met Mrs Franklin and Melissa, it was when he was being hauled back to the Quinns after running away. The headmistress Mrs Strang had him dressed in delicate, very feminine clothes and its worth going back to Part 5of Amongst Women to see exactly what happened. I can't imagine what's going on in Jack's mind now that he's faced with serving them their drinks.
We are loving this story so please keep building up the suspense for young Jack!
J & R

L.G. said...

Thank you, J & R, glad you are enjoying the story. You are right, there could hardly have been a more embarrassing pair of visitors for Jack to renew acquaintance with, than the Franklins - and now dressed as a serving maid, in contrast to the elegant blouse and skirt Mrs Strang had been parading him in a few days earlier.
I haven't settled on the exact train of events which will now follow, but I can assure you that Jack is likely to suffer plenty of further embarrassments before this story finally comes to an end - hopefully with a happier ending for our hero(ine)...
I shall try and maintain the regularity of the instalments but please be patient if I don't always manage a weekly episode.
Enjoy the story!
Love to all, L.G.

Anonymous said...

I'm loving this story, seems to be building up nicely towards Miss Havisham's big weekend. Guess that's going to be quite a stressful one for Jack but sure he'll be looking his beautiful best!
Such a pity we can't see what he looks like, with his new hairstyle and smart parlourmaid uniform.
Maid Marcia xx

Anonymous said...

I too am greatly enjoying this continuation of "Amongst Women" and I am not even into maid stories as a general rule. But the delicious thickening of Jack/Elizabeth's predicament is what I find so intoxicating. Well done and I await each installment with bated breath. Thanks again!!

Carrie P said...

Late again with my comments, as usual life getting in the way of following your excellent serial.
Another great instalment.
Miss Havisham is certainly taking full advantage of Jack’s predicament and becoming her favourite has seemed to have raised the hackles of Miss Crafty who is obviously devoted if not in love with Gloria and probably insanely jealous of any pretty young thing who she perceives as a rival for her Mistress’s affections. And heaven help the poor unfortunate if “she” happens to be a pretty male. I really like the fact that Miss Havisham still humiliates Jack by reminding him is a just such a pretty male which we as readers must never lose sight of.
The idea of being “on show” is a marvellous one, we can just imagine Miss Havisham draped lazily across an antique chaise longue in a tea length taffeta dress flounced out over several petticoats and propped up by satin cushions admiring her pretty young girly boy perhaps getting him to kneel at her feet while he files her nails, gives her a foot rub or some other humiliating task. Exquisite.
His constant fear of being exposed will keep him on his toes or maybe that should be heels.
I’d almost forgotten about the Franklins they have the potential to pose some problems for Jack .
Like every other reader I’m really enjoying it.
Best regards

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful story, I love the way all the characters are interacting with each other. So many possibilities now for some excitement, embarassment etc when the big weekend arrives. Cant wait for next episode please.
An avid reader xxx

L.G. said...

Maid Marcia, Carrie P and the anon and "avid" readers, I am so pleased you are enjoying the Havisham Hall story.

Marcia you are right, Jack is now looking truly gorgeous in his prettiest of parlourmaid outfits and Miss Havisham will certainly want to have him looking his very best throughout the big weekend.
As you say, Carrie, Gloria Havisham is revelling in having her new girly boy dancing to her tune and she will no doubt be in her element when the guests all arrive. And, as "avid reader" rightly observes, the interplay between the various characters, whether they are upstairs or downstairs will be interesting once they are all brought together under the same roof.

I'm sorry to have taken a little longer than usual with Part 9. It's nearly ready now.

Love to you all, L.G.

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