Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Heroine of Havisham Hall - Part 16

After the drama of Miss Craftey's sudden dismissal, Havisham Hall's orderly regime was restored remarkably quickly.   As far as the staff were concerned, the shock of what had happened was tempered by what was, for most of them, the sense of relief that from now on they would be spared the severity of such a fearsome disciplinarian.   None of them, apart from Cook, whose memory had been failing fast for some while, could remember a time when Havisham had not been ruled over by the austere, uncompromising Nora Craftey.    Now, perhaps, there was at last the prospect of a more liberal, relaxed and altogether happier atmosphere and whoever it was who had brought about this dramatic turn of events was undoubtedly something of a hero, or heroine, as the case may be...

It was the senior maid, Agnes, who calmly took charge straightaway, in place of Miss Craftey.  Having explained to the guests that Miss Havisham was resting for the afternoon in readiness for the evening's activities, Agnes invited those who had just arrived to join Miss Burgess and Miss Hughes and make themselves comfortable in the drawing-room, where Karen was serving tea and coffee, or, if they preferred, in their rooms from where they were welcome to ring for service if required.  She also arranged for Linda to welcome the visiting ladies' maids at the staff entrance, whilst she asked Maria Rodriguez to escort the disgruntled and thoroughly shaken Miss Craftey off the premises.  Miss Craftey was duly driven away to the nearest railway station, with two hurriedly packed suitcases containing all her essential belongings.   Was this really the last they would ever see of "Crafty", some of the staff were already wondering?

Agnes had earlier warned Karen, when the two of them were sent out for more coffee, against mentioning to any of the other staff the embarrassing accusation which they, and of course Betsy, had heard in the drawing-room.  She knew how reliable Karen would be in a matter of this importance.  So, for the time being, Miss Burgess's suggestion and Jack's little secret were not generally known to the staff.  But the mystery of exactly why Miss Craftey had left so suddenly was certainly now exercising the minds of most of the staff as they gathered in the servants hall to welcome the visitors' maids.

Jack, meanwhile, was glad of the opportunity to make himself useful tending to his mistress's needs as he accompanied her upstairs to her bedroom.   Miss Havisham kept insisting that she was feeling fine, but she was very grateful for his attention and readily agreed that she now needed a restful afternoon before receiving her remaining guests and hosting dinner that evening.  Once they reached the sanctuary of Madam's bedroom Jack was in no doubt that Madam was now fully recovered.  "We're going to have to move you, Elizabeth" she began by saying. "We can't have you sharing a bedroom with Annabelle now that half the house knows you're a boy.  Well, you were a boy, perhaps I should say."

Jack blushed at this last remark for he was becoming increasingly conscious of his pert little breasts, which he now realized must be due to the so-called "vitamin pills" he had been told to take when leaving home some weeks earlier.  "Yes Madam, I'm a boy" he replied, but at the same time noticed to his embarrassment how high-pitched his voice seemed to have become.  Was that something to do with the pills as well, or the result of having to pretend he was a girl all this time, he wondered to himself.

"Let me show you where I'm going to put you" Madam was saying to him.  "Look dear, there's a nice single room here with a connecting door with my own room.  It hasn't been used as a bedroom for very many years, but I remember when I was a small child my Grandmama's maid Daisy used to sleep in here.  She sometimes invited me in to play with her, when Granny wasn't around.  I've used it very occasionally as a dressing room but it's been a bit neglected since Granny and then my parents all passed away." 

Jack detected a sad, faraway look on Madam's face and felt he should say something to cheer her up.  "Oh yes Madam, I should love to sleep here" he said as they walked through into the small room with one another.   "Well, it would be so much more convenient for me to have my ladies maid close by from now on" Miss Havisham responded.  "Now let me show you what's in this wardrobe.  Look dear, isn't this the most beautiful ladies' maid uniform.   Just feel the softness of the fabric and the delicate lace collar and cuffs.  Isn't it just adorable, my sweet?   I'm sure you'd just love to wear this wouldn't you. my dearest?  Now look... yes that's right, hold it against yourself, oh yes, that will suit you perfectly.  I'll get Miss Bracegirdle to tidy it up a little and adjust it slightly to fit your size.   Oh I'm so thrilled, you could become my official ladies' maid by next week, complete with the proper traditional Havisham Hall lady's maid uniform.  What do you think, Elizabeth?"

And Jack, determined to remain loyal and close to Madam, the one person who still seemed to care for him, heard himself respond excitedly as he stood holding the dress and white apron, "Oh yes Madam, it's absolutely lovely.  Didn't they make such beautiful, elegant outfits in those days Madam.  I'm sure I'll love....."

Jack broke off as they heard someone knocking to enter Madam's bedroom and suddenly there was Agnes who, as promised, had hurried upstairs to check how Miss Havisham was feeling.  "Oh I'm sorry to interrupt Madam but I don't think you heard my knocking.  Is everything all right for you Madam?"

"Oh yes Agnes" replied Miss Havisham "that's very kind of you.  Yes, everything is just fine thank you, Elizabeth here is showing me what a wonderful ladies maid she is going to be...."

                                        *                      *                        *                     *

Downstairs in the drawing-room most of the guests had decided to accept the offer of tea or coffee and were politely introducing themselves to one another, or renewing acquaintance, as the case may be.  One face which was new to many of them was that of Mrs Georgina Davies, Emily Quinn's very wealthy elder sister, who had recently married her long-standing companion much to many people's astonishment.  "I know this is a ladies only weekend" Emily was saying as she introduced Georgina to Janet Strang "but it's a shame you couldn't have brought Gwyn with you."  And Georgina, a confident well-built lady if ever there was one, replied to the effect that "Gwen" would be well occupied at home catching up with the mending and ironing.  "I've told him there'll be hell to pay if he hasn't attended to my lingerie and a couple of my blouses by the time I get back" she added with a grin.

Both the titled guests, Lady Lavinia Lovelace and Dame Olivia Laurence, had mixed in with the other guests very easily, thanks to Cecily Burgess who had known Lady Lavinia for some years.  Having such distinguished ladies to serve was, however, proving somewhat confusing for Karen and Annabelle, both of whom were struggling to remember that Lady Lavinia had to be addressed as "My Lady" whilst the other guests were simply "Madam".  Shortly after Jack returned to the room, having been told by Agnes to leave Miss Havisham to sleep for a while, he heard Lady Lavinia saying in quite a loud voice "We can't have this nonsense, I shall tell Gloria we should all be treated the same.  If you're all agreed I will ask her to instruct the staff to address you all as "My Lady" throughout the weekend.   And to Jack's dismay, all the guests - including, he noticed, both Miss Pamela and Miss Melissa - signified their agreement.  "Equal rights!" Miss Burgess was heard to call out, to much amusement among all the guests, "I'm sure Gloria will be entirely happy with that."

Jack's worst fears concerning the reactions of his former classmate and her new friend to this exalted status were realized only an hour or so later.  He had just started to pack his possessions ready to move bedrooms, having apologetically explained to Annabelle that Madam had asked him to move to a room close to hers, when the bell from Miss Quinn and Miss Franklin's room rang loud and long.  The girls obviously found it fun to keep their hand on the bell, so they could irritate their maid to the maximum.  Of course they already knew exactly who that maid was going to be and, when Jack duly knocked on their door a short while later, they remained totally silent.  Jack knocked again and there was still no response.  He was just beginning to wonder whether he had gone to the wrong room in his anxiety to show how quickly he could respond, when he detected a stifled laugh from behind the door, followed eventually by a giggling "Enter, maid!"

Jack had no option but to curtsey low to both the girls as he entered the room, uttering the totally humiliating "Good evening, My Lady" to each in turn.  This reduced the girls to further laughter, until Miss Pamela eventually pulled herself together and asked Jack if he was the girl who was to be her ladies maid for the weekend.  "Yes, My Lady" came Jack's reply, through gritted teeth, but for once he quite forgot to curtsey.  "Well, maid, how long have you been a maid in this house, may I ask?" said Miss Pamela, while Miss Franklin looked on with a smirk.  "Just a few weeks, My Lady" Jack replied.  "Well, you may only have been here a few weeks but I would have thought by now you would know that when you are speaking to a lady, you always curtsey to her.  I will have to report you to the other guests later, if only to warn them that standards in this house are not what one would normally expect." 

"Oh, I am sorry Madam, I mean My Lady, Madam" replied Jack, reduced once more to the nervous wreck he had so often been at the hands of Miss Craftey.  "Well, I shall be gracious this once, but don't forget again" said Miss Pamela, now satisfied that she had poor Jackie - as she had always known him - exactly where she wanted him.  "No, My Lady" replied a relieved Jack "I promise I won't, My Lady" as he gave her a full, perfectly executed curtsey.

(to be continued)

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Heroine of Havisham Hall - Part 15

Jennifer Hughes was the first to break the silence.  "Cecily, I hardly think we are going to find any more of those girly boys working here now - are we, Gloria?   Not after what happened to that pretty young man of yours at the Matriarchal Society Luncheon..."

Miss Havisham rose to her feet.  Jack, standing to attention as the obedient parlourmaid he had become, was surprised how calm Madam looked in the circumstances.   He listened intently as she addressed her two guests firmly and directly:  "Cecily, Jennifer, I do not know what either of you is talking about. It's all stuff and nonsense.  Now, I think we could all do with some more coffee, or perhaps you would prefer tea - and maybe some biscuits?"  And, turning to the maids Agnes and Karen, "Girls, please would you attend to that as quickly as you can - my other guests will be arriving at any minute now."

Agnes and Karen curtsied hurriedly and, looking as though they could not escape fast enough, left the room with a brief "Yes, of course, Madam, right away".   Jack was now left alone with the three very rich and powerful ladies who he had first met, all together, at Mrs Quinn's house just a few weeks earlier.  His initial reaction to what he had just heard had been one of utter humiliation, as he listened to two of the ladies openly discussing him without once appearing to realize that he, the humble maid now standing by the door, was that very same Elizabeth to whom they were referring. 

But now he felt heartened by the manner of Madam's firm response to them.  He was coming to admire her more and more, despite all the lengths that she was going to in her determination to turn him into a sexually desirable female servant.   Madam's calm, confident authority gave him some much needed reassurance and he now stood motionless awaiting his instructions, surprisingly comfortable in his black satin parlourmaid's uniform and the very tight and constricting undergarments, not to speak of the small butt-plug which she had casually inserted into him a short while earlier.  Somehow the otherwise unloved Jack was now finding solace in Madam's obsession with him as her new "little favourite" and in a curious way was rather enjoying the experience. 

But his wandering mind was soon brought back to the present, as he heard Madam address him in her customary kind manner.   "Betsy, would you mind closing the door please, Karen and Agnes seem to have left it slightly ajar.  Thank you dear.  Now, you may remain with us while I converse for a while with Miss Burgess and Miss Hughes."  

Miss Havisham paused for a moment before turning to her guests.  "Cecily, Jennifer, you both should be well aware that I have arranged this whole weekend - at great personal expense to myself I might add - for the sole purpose of supporting and promoting the success of the drama school project in which the three of us have all agreed to invest.   You both know, as well as I do, that it was the impact which one highly talented young man made upon us at Emily Quinn's tea party that persuaded us all to commit considerable financial support to the project.  That young man's ability to transform himself into a stunningly attractive young lady, not simply through his clothing and make-up but also his beautiful, gentle manner of behaviour, took us all into raptures, did it not?"

Jack listened to this with a mixture of astonishment and embarrassment, as his mistress waxed on about his feminine charms.  He was starting to wonder where this was all leading.

"Well, ladies, I have news for you" Miss Havisham continued.  "The lovely boy girl, who we got to know as Elizabeth that afternoon, is now right here.  Aren't you, Betsy?"

Jack was totally stunned and the whole room fell into silence.  He had only just begun to digest the fact that Miss Hughes and Miss Burgess really had not recognized him today under his new feminine hairstyle, his beautifully made-up face and his tight-fitting parlourmaid's uniform.  He also recalled that Madam had herself failed to recognize him when she first saw him in a Havisham Hall uniform.  Perhaps, he had started to think, they might have failed to identify him over this whole weekend - if everybody else was also taken in, or kept quiet about who he was?   

But would they all have kept the secret?   For the whole weekend?    Jack soon realized that there was no chance of this at all.  For a start, the Quinns and the Franklins would soon be arriving, and Miss Franklin (was he really going to have to refer to her as "Miss Franklin" and to Pamela as "Miss Quinn"?) was hardly likely to be fooled, having seen him in his present role - and worked out exactly who he was - only a few days earlier.   Once again, Jack realized, Madam had now done exactly the right thing in the circumstances.  There was no point in pretending any more.

It was obviously now Madam's intention to be absolutely open about Jack, at least to her guests.  Jack thought again about that list of guests, which he had been instructed by Miss Craftey to memorize.  He had been worrying how they would all react to the pretence, for most of them knew all about his feminization anyway and in some cases had been personally involved in taking him down that route.  So perhaps it would be a relief that it would all now be an open secret.   But then, Jack thought, what about all his fellow maids?  And, worst of all, Miss Craftey?   Jack was just starting to contemplate how they would all react, when the long stony silence was finally broken, quite gently, by Madam.

"Betsy, are you with us?  You seem miles away dear.  I asked you a question."

"Oh yes, oh I'm so sorry Madam, yes I'm here Madam" Jack replied with an apologetic look on his face and a hasty, but perfectly executed, low curtsey.

Miss Havisham continued "You see, ladies, he really is quite an actor isn't he?  I'm sure you'll agree that we made absolutely the right decision to invest in the success of talent such as this."

But before either Cecily Burgess or Jennifer Hughes could respond, the door burst open and into the room stormed a furious looking Miss Craftey.   "Madam, may I have a word please?  I have just heard an appalling assertion from two members of my staff."   And turning to the Misses Burgess and Hughes, she added "I am sorry ladies, but we have encountered a very serious problem and I need to speak privately with Madam."

                                            *                    *                   *                    *

Jack, now just as bewildered as the ladies upon whom he was attending, looked first at Madam, and
then at the increasingly angry and agitated housekeeper, who chose that moment to turn her attention on to him:  "You scoundrel, how dare you come into this house and intrude upon our peace and sanctuary?  You're a....   you are....  you are a b-boy, aren't you?   A disgusting, revolting boy.  I must say I've been wondering about you ever since you arrived here, despite your extremely convincing girlish appearance..."   And turning back to Miss Havisham, she added "Gloria, how could you?  You know how we've always kept this house pure and clean - and now, look what we have..."

Once again Gloria Havisham responded calmly and confidently.  "Nora, please come with me to my study" and the two women left the drawing-room together in total silence.

Remembering his instructions for the afternoon, Jack smiled sweetly at Miss Burgess and Miss Hughes, who were now looking at one another in dismay.  How had they failed to recognize this lovely girly boy that they had so admired a few weeks earlier, and who they had anyway been expecting to see some time during this visit to Gloria Havisham's?   "I must say, Cecily, I did wonder how long it would be before we found Gloria up to her old tricks again" said Jennifer Hughes, to which she received the frank response "I'm sure you're right Jennifer, I think we may merely have hastened the inevitable with our remarks this afternoon."

Jack, now feeling very conscious - and quite scared - about being the cause of Miss Craftey's outburst, was quite glad to be subject to the strict servant's etiquette which prohibited him from opening his mouth unless he was spoken to.  Clearly Miss Havisham's desire to have him here, disguised as a girl, had clashed head on with Miss Craftey's long-standing obsession with preserving Havisham Hall as an exclusively female household.  He had heard that terrible things had been done by Miss Craftey to another boy who had, it seemed, chosen to live as a girl in Miss Havisham's admiring presence but whose male gender had been revealed at a charity function to Madam's, and his, great discomfort.  Now here he was, in danger of similar treatment at the hands of the furious housekeeper. But he had not exactly chosen the humiliating path down which he had been led, and which now resulted in his present predicament.

Through all that was happening around him, Jack resolved to adhere to the etiquette expected of him as a humble maidservant and, above all, to remain totally obedient to Madam at all times.  After all, this was her house and surely she would look after him and not let him be abused, by Miss Craftey or anybody else for that matter.   Besides, she had certainly been a great deal kinder to him than that old battle-axe who they all addressed as "Crafty" behind her back.  Jack felt sure that by maintaining his loyalty to Madam, whatever happened, all would be well.

                                          *                     *                        *                       *

Agnes and Karen eventually returned to the drawing-room with the further refreshments that Madam had ordered and Jack watched in silence from his station beside the door as they served the two spinster guests.   The conversation between Miss Hughes and Miss Burgess, such as it was, became increasingly stilted, while the three maids - now with nothing else to do, in the absence of their mistress - stood all in a line beside the door, smiling sweetly and harmlessly if either of the guests glanced in their direction.   The time passed slowly, while everyone's thoughts were on the conversation that Madam and Miss Craftey must be having across the corridor in Madam's study. 

Eventually, after an excruciatingly painful ten minutes, which had seemed at least twice as long, Madam returned alone to the room.  "Is everything all right Gloria?" asked Cecily Burgess "I am so sorry if we have caused you a problem this afternoon..."

Miss Havisham cut her short "No, Cecily, you have not caused a problem.  I have caused myself a problem.   I have just...."   Miss Havisham stopped in mid sentence and Jack noticed a solitary tear running down Madam's cheek.   There was a further short delay, while Miss Havisham gathered herself, and went on.  "I have...  I have just had to dismiss a woman who has served me loyally for over thirty-five years...   Since I was ten years old..."    And the mistress of Havisham Hall, who had been left alone as a child all those years ago after her parents' fatal accident, with only her old nanny and parents' housekeeper Nora Craftey to look after her, broke down once again.   After a few seconds, she got herself together once more and carried on.  "I just don't know how I'm going to cope, oh, I really don't know...  I've never been without Crafty, I just don't know....    And now Gloria Havisham, the richest and one of the most influential ladies in the entire neighbourhood, broke down completely in tears.   How was she going to cope, indeed?

Just then the sound of the front door bell could be heard once more and the voices of several very excited sounding ladies could be heard thanking Annabelle, and Maria Rodriguez, for collecting all their suitcases from their cars.  "Will you excuse me Madam" said Agnes "I think Karen and I should assist Annabelle and Maria in the front hall.   It sounds like most of the other guests have all arrived one after another.   Betsy, would you mind escorting Madam up to her bedroom, I'll be there to see you Madam in a short while.   I think you should rest awhile, don't you Madam, so you and your guests can all have a lovely time later."

Y-y-yes Agnes, of course, thank you so much..." sobbed a distraught Gloria Havisham.

(to be continued)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Heroine of Havisham Hall - Part 14

"Oh, I'm so excited Melissa, I just can't wait to see dear Jackie in his new role.  You saw him, or should I say her, the other day didn't you?  Please tell me, is he really working as a regular maid like you told me?"

Pamela Quinn had been pestering her friend Melissa Franklin for the up-to-date news on Jack ever since she heard that Melissa and her mother had been to visit Gloria Havisham a week or so ago.  Now they were all travelling over to Havisham Hall, together with Mrs Quinn's newly married sister Georgina Davies, for the ladies' weekend house party which Miss Havisham had specially arranged with the aim of gaining further support for the new Stuyvesant Academy drama school.  Only a few weeks earlier, the thought of spending a weekend with a crowd of middle-aged ladies in a stately home would have held no appeal whatsoever for either of the two teenagers.  But since learning that they had been offered places amongst the very first students to be admitted into the brand new drama school, they had suddenly become quite interested in meeting the world-famous actress Dame Olivia Laurence and the other lady who they had been told was also very important in the world of theatre - "Lady Lavinia Lovely, or whatever her name is" as Pamela Quinn had referred to her.

Pamela and her mother had recently enjoyed two wonderful weeks in Paris, where they had not only visited several fashion shows during the annual Paris Fashion Week but had come away with several fabulous evening dresses created by the top designers.  One of Mrs Quinn's oldest friends was also attending the shows and had arranged for them to meet the great Christian Dior in person for a short while.  Pamela, previously very much a tomboy, had been bowled over by the whole experience, and by the grace and beauty of the new designs on show, and she just could not wait for an opportunity to try on some of the creations which her mother spent a fortune purchasing.

Since their return home they had met up with Marjorie and Melissa Franklin and the four of them had spent a very happy morning trying on these extravagant gowns, most of which had come straight from the Paris catwalks.   And now all four ladies - even the previously reluctant Melissa - were to have the perfect opportunity to show them off, for Emily Quinn was only too happy to share the dresses out between the four of them, and indeed with her sister Georgina too, for this special weekend at Havisham Hall. The two families had become much closer since discovering that the girls would be studying alongside one another and there was also no doubt that the chance to wear such beautiful, feminine gowns seemed to be having exactly the effect on both Pamela and Melissa that their mothers had been hoping for.   Marjorie and Emily had recently remarked to one another with great satisfaction how both girls were now behaving in a much more mature manner.

Encouraged by this improvement in the girls' demeanour, Emily Quinn had ventured to suggest to Pamela that the last couple of days before the weekend party might be an opportune time to begin rehearsing her newly-written one-act play, so that extracts from it could perhaps be performed in front of Miss Havisham and her guests, including Dame Olivia and Lady Lavinia.  What better way could there be, both to thank Miss Havisham and also to celebrate the decision to go ahead with the whole drama school project?   She had gone on to point out to Pamela that, as the writer of the school's first ever play, she would surely forever be remembered at the school with great distinction.

So Pamela and Melissa had been persuaded to start rehearsing "The Princess and her Very Obedient Maid", the short play which Pamela had mischievously and rather hurriedly written as a pretext for getting Jackie Swanson into a maid's uniform while she herself could lord it over the poor boy in her vastly superior role.  But as Pamela and Melissa now began rehearsing, it soon became clear that for the play to be performed during the forthcoming weekend, they would have to decide which of them was to be the Princess, and which the humble, obedient maid.   The actor for whom the part of the very obedient maid had been written would certainly not be available, as he was now fully employed performing a somewhat similar role in real life!   It simply would not do to involve one of the serving staff in the guests' entertainment.

So, as they now travelled over to Havisham in Aunt Georgina's chauffeur driven Rolls Royce, Pamela heard her aunt suggest that, in order to prove their suitability for a dramatic education, both girls should learn both parts and be able to play them on demand.  In fact, she added, I think we should invite Dame Olivia to toss a coin over dinner as to which of you will be the Princess.  "What an excellent idea" agreed both Emily Quinn and Marjorie Franklin.

                                             *                    *                   *                   *

Meanwhile, at Havisham Hall, once Gloria Havisham had taken Jack downstairs in his brand new uniform, complete with the five inch heels which now made him carry himself in an even daintier manner than before, she immediately sent him to report to Miss Craftey who was already carrying out a thorough inspection of all the staff in readiness for the guests' arrival.

"My word, what have we here?" was Miss Craftey's reaction when she saw Jack looking so much more confident and elegant than before.   Jack bobbed a little curtsey, blushing from ear to ear, both at the greeting and at the realization that this was only the first of many such curtseys which he would be required to perform over the next few hours, each one now a difficult and delicate manoeuvre in his extremely restricting new uniform and undergarments, let alone in heels that were higher than ever.

"Well, well, well, doesn't our Betsy look lovely" exclaimed Edna, one of the older maids.

"Yes Edna, Little Miss Favourite certainly does" responded Miss Craftey with more than a hint of bitterness.  "Except that she's not so little in those shoes, she's almost my own height now."   And Jack himself noticed what he thought now sounded like a note of resentment in the housekeeper's voice.  Was this perhaps an indication that the sense of inferiority, which he had felt ever since he first met Miss Craftey, might actually diminish when he wore such high heels?

But there was no time to contemplate this prospect any further.   Jack was now required to stand in line alongside all the other maids, who he noted to his great relief were all in identical parlourmaid uniforms to his own.   However only he and Annabelle were in high heels, and Annabelle's were certainly no more than two or three inches - only half the height of his.  Jack did not mind this extra height, he decided.  It was definitely helping to boost his confidence.  Besides, he was quickly growing used to the heels and, even with the tight skirt and everything else he was now wearing, he was beginning to become quite comfortable walking around.  

Just as it was Jack's turn to face Miss Craftey's individual inspection, she dropped a spoon on the floor in front of him, requiring him to pick it up for her.   "Just testing you, Betsy, that's all" she said as Jack easily stooped to retrieve it, returned it to Miss Craftey, and curtseyed to her for good measure - now feeling much less fear than before.  Somehow Jack was feeling a definite sense of inner confidence.  Was it the height of the shoes?   Or the quality and comfort of the uniform, or perhaps the firmness of his new underwear?   Or maybe the stimulus of the little butt-plug?   As Miss Craftey moved on to inspect Annabelle, and then on to Karen and Linda and the others, Jack thought to himself that it was perhaps also down to the new sense of happiness and belonging which he had started to enjoy in the company of Miss Havisham.   How he wished he could now stay with Madam, and not be required to move on and be in service for the next few months to the Quinn household.

                                         *                     *                       *                     *

It was another half-hour before the first of Gloria Havisham's weekend guests began to arrive.  By now Jack was stationed in the drawing-room, close to the door so that he could help open and close it when the principal parlourmaids, Agnes and Karen, were carrying trays.   Other than this simple task, he was merely instructed to stand still, smile sweetly, and curtsey prettily to each guest as they entered or left the room.  If any of the guests spoke to him, he was to respond politely "Yes Madam" or "Thank you Madam", again with a sweet smile and a neat little curtsey.

Cecily Burgess and Jennifer Hughes, two long-standing acquaintances of Gloria Havisham's and now her fellow benefactors of the drama school, were the first to arrive.  Jack immediately recalled meeting them both at Mrs Quinn's on that excruciatingly embarrassing afternoon when, in a child's frock and six layers of frilly petticoats, he had also been introduced to - and had so delighted - Miss Havisham,   He was not sure whether he preferred facing them now in his present guise, with the humiliating loss of status that his uniform now implied, or in that sweet little girly outfit in which he had become the instant darling of Mrs Quinn's guests.  What he did know was that he now felt a great deal more assured and secure in Miss Havisham's service.  But what he was much less sure about was how he would feel, very shortly, upon the arrival of Mrs Quinn and Miss Quinn (and how he hated being told that he must now refer to Miss Pamela in such a deferential manner).  He was, after all, still wearing the locked chain which had bound him so permanently to Mrs Quinn.

"Gloria, may I compliment you once again on the immaculate appearance of your staff" Miss Burgess was soon heard saying to her hostess in front of Jack and the other maids, Agnes and Karen, who were busy serving coffee for the ladies.  "These three, and the girl on the front door - Annabelle, was she called? - all look so adorable and the uniforms are absolutely exquisite...    We were also hoping we might see that lovely young thing, Elizabeth, weren't we Jennifer?    I'd heard that she, or should I say he, was working here now.  Is he going to be on duty this weekend Gloria?"

There was a stunned silence, whilst Gloria Havisham glared at Cecily Burgess, Jennifer Hughes let out a little gasp, and Agnes and Karen briefly stopped pouring the coffee.   Jack, who until then had been feeling quite relaxed and comfortable in his tidy uniform and effortless duties, felt his heart sink.  Was Miss Burgess going to refer to him as "he" and "him" all weekend?   And who else might then do the same?   Suddenly Jack's feeling of inner confidence completely disappeared.   How long now before his secret was all round the servants' hall?   Agnes and Karen could hardly be expected to keep this to themselves for long...

(to be continued)  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Heroine of Havisham Hall - Part 13

As he returned to his chambermaiding duties, preparing the ladies' bedrooms for the weekend, Jack could not get his mother's birthday card out of his mind.  The extremely girly card which she had sent him, and the message inside it, which promised to take him shopping for some nice summer dresses as soon as they were both back home, made him more conscious than ever just how difficult it was now going to be for him to return to life as a boy.

He was clearly trapped as a maid for the time being here at Havisham Hall, and was probably also doomed to spend time in a similar role at the Quinns, if and when Miss Havisham was willing to let him go.  And now it seemed that, even when his mother returned from her travels, she would be expecting him to live his life as her daughter rather than her son.

As he puffed up the pink pillows on what would soon be Miss Pamela's and Miss Melissa's beds, and checked the whole room to make sure that everything was clean and tidy for them, Jack tried to come to terms with his situation.  He took the card out from where he had hidden it under his apron, still scarcely believing that his Mom had really sent him such a girlish card and message.  And then he noticed some further words, which he had not noticed, for inside the front of the card it read "To my sweetest darling daughter, Elizabeth, I'm so proud of you my dearest, from your ever loving Mummy".  Yes, Jack thought to himself, it really is every bit as feminine as he had feared.

Just then his thoughts were interrupted by Miss Craftey entering the room that he was supposed to be preparing for the young ladies.   Jack jumped, then curtsied, then stood waiting for what he presumed would be a thorough inspection.   But seeing Jack standing there, card in hand, he soon heard Miss Craftey's cutting words.

"I see Betsy, so we're still admiring our pretty little birthday card are we?   Come on now girl, you're supposed to be getting this room all spick and span for Miss Quinn and Miss Franklin.  By the way, I should have mentioned, that is how Madam has instructed us all to refer to the young ladies - or as "Madam", of course, if we are speaking to them direct, like all the other guests.  Except for Lady Lavinia, who of course is "My Lady".   Now then, what about this room?   Oh my word, Betsy, what is this dressing-table doing without a nice chair for the ladies to sit in as they prepare themselves for dinner?   Really girl, you do still have a lot to learn, don't you?

"Yes, Miss, I'm sorry Miss, I mean Madam" stammered Jack with his customary curtsey.  He thought briefly to himself that this would not be the last time he would be obliged to drop a curtsey in this room.

"No,  Miss will do, or Miss Craftey for me, you silly girl, you should know that by now.  "Madam" is for all Madam's invited guests, as I've just told you...   Anyhow, what I've come in here to say is that Madam has just informed me that she has decided to make a change to your duties this afternoon.   She has decided, I think very wisely, that you should not be on front door duty after all.   Instead she now wishes you to be an extra pair of hands in the drawing-room, to assist whenever required with the serving of drinks to the guests while their luggage is being taken to their rooms.  You see, Betsy, neither Madam nor I have confidence that you are sufficiently familiar with the guests' room allocations to cope with the front door.   So your duty this afternoon will be to stand quietly in the drawing-room looking pretty, until you are asked to do something.   Is that understood Betsy, do you think you could manage that?"

"Er yes, Mad -  er, I mean Miss, of course Miss" bobbed poor, confused Jack, now feeling more helpless than ever.

"And Madam has particularly requested" continued Miss Craftey "that you look your very best.  So you are to report to Linda now, for further work on your hair and a full makeover.  And when Linda has finished with you, you are to report immediately to Madam and she will provide you with your uniform for this afternoon... and, I believe, some suitable undergarments."

So that was it, thought Jack, as he was dismissed by Miss Craftey.   Not only had he been dumped for good into a totally humiliating female existence by his "ever loving Mummy", he was now no longer trusted to do more than stand still and look pretty in front of all Madam's guests.  And on his birthday too!

But Jack had no time to stand and mope.   Linda was already waiting for him in the makeshift, but currently very active, little salon which she had created in the corner of the servants' hall.   Here, for the third time in the past few days, Jack now had his blonde hair re-styled, with extra highlights which seemed to make his whole head now glow like golden sunshine.  And then, to his amazement, Jack received a full, facial makeover.  When Linda was through with him, Jack simply did not recognize himself.   He had to hand it to Linda, she certainly knew how to make a girl feel good...   But no, Jack scolded himself, he mustn't think like this - his whole mind was starting to think of himself as a girl...

"Well, there you are, Betsy, how's that?" said Linda as she beamed proudly at Jack.   She sensed that this shy young girl really appreciated what she had done for her, with all the tinting and highlighting, and the blow-drying and brushing out of her hair.   And now Jack was taking in the effect of the makeover as well.  Linda was really pleased with the overall effect, and with another broad smile she reminded Jack where he had to go next.  "Off you go now Betsy, I think Crafty said you're to collect a new uniform from Madam now, didn't she?"

Poor Jack just did not know whether he was coming or going.  In fact, as he glanced once more in Linda's mirror, he really didn't know WHO he was any longer...  He'd been looking more and more like a girl since the day he arrived at Havisham Hall, but now he had to admit he did look absolutely amazing.   His little secret willy stirred for a moment under his girdle and the badly-soiled gaff he was still wearing, as he now made his way up the corridor and knocked on the door of Madam's study.

"Enter" came the swift response and Jack rather nervously opened the door and presented himself to Madam with a deep, perfectly executed curtsey.   He consoled himself with the thought that this was one thing which he felt he could now do rather well.

"Ah, Elizabeth" said Miss Havisham, peering closely at Jack over her spectacles and doing him the rare honour, Jack noted with satisfaction, of addressing him by his correct name...  well, the name that he thought was correct for him now.  "Oh, I do like your hair, dear - and your makeover too.   Yes, that's very nice indeed.   No-one would ever guess your little secret now, would they my darling?   You are such a beautiful young lady, aren't you?"  Miss Havisham paused for a moment and waited for a response from Jack.

"Yes Madam" he replied, after a moment's thought, curtseying to his mistress at the same time as considering exactly what he was now admitting.

"And do I gather that it's your birthday today - sixteen today?"

"Yes Madam".

"Well, my dear, I've got a special treat for you in a little while."

"Oh thank you Madam, that's very kind Madam" responded Jack, with another neat little curtsey.  "Thank you so much Madam".    And Jack now felt himself blushing through his make-up as he stood in front of Madam's admiring eyes.   It was so nice to feel appreciated, especially after all the torment he had been suffering lately.

There was another pause, while Madam surveyed her new favourite and Jack basked in the attention he was receiving.   Mistress and servant smiled fondly at one another - almost lovingly, Jack felt.   It made him feel happier than he had for a very long time.  He was about to repeat the little curtsey, which he felt he had just executed so nicely, when Miss Havisham broke the silence.

"Betsy, I'm going to have you and Annabelle doing the waitressing at dinner tonight.  I want to create the very best impression when all my guests first come together.  Miss Craftey tells me Cook has a wonderful meal planned and we're going to have my best Royal Worcester dinner service and of course the silver.  It will all look absolutely marvellous and we're all going to be in our best evening dresses.   So I want my two most beautiful maids serving us and I've had my personal dressmaker create new uniforms for the two of you, specially for the occasion."

Jack thought immediately of the "special uniform" which Miss Bracegirdle had created for him in last night's dream.  Were he and Annabelle to serve dinner, wearing sexy little French maid outfits like the one he wore in that horrendous nightmare?   He'd heard someone say to him once that the most vivid dreams always end up coming true...

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"So, my love, if you come upstairs with me to my bedroom now" continued Miss Havisham, and Jack followed his mistress upstairs to her boudoir, a room with which he was now familiar after several evenings delivering Madam's late night cocoa.   As they made their way to her bedroom, walking along for the first time in each other's company, Jack wondered just what kind of costume now awaited him.

"We've got some lovely things for you to wear for my special occasion" Miss Havisham was saying as they made their way along the corridor.  "Oh, and I don't know whether Miss Craftey has told you, but I want you on display in the drawing-room this afternoon while Agnes and Karen serve the drinks.   I think you'd be wasted standing outside on front door duty..."    Jack thought to himself that this wasn't quite the same reasoning for his switch of duties that Miss Craftey had implied.

By this time they had reached the door to Madam's boudoir.  Miss Havisham took Jack by the hand and they entered the room together.   And there, all spread out on Madam's king-size double bed, was the silkiest collection of garments and underwear that Jack had ever set his eyes upon.

Jack was mesmerized by the array of beautiful clothing which Madam now wished him to wear.  At least it did not look like the skimpy French maid's uniform in the dream, he noted to his relief.   He felt flattered by all the attention that this important, immensely wealthy lady was bestowing upon him.   At last, he felt, here was true love of the kind he had never received from his own mother.  Jack was overcome by the thrill of being admired by such a distinguished lady.  He now felt that, whatever she asked him to do, he would be safe and secure in Madam's hands.

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An hour later, Jack was all dolled up, appropriately attired for the parlourmaid and waitressing duties he was to perform for the remainder of his birthday.   Miss Havisham had provided him with a completely new uniform - a classy, elegant, calf-length black satin parlourmaid's dress with a tight pencil skirt, puff shoulders, a pretty lace collar and frilly cuffs cut just above the wrists.  Over this dress, Jack was now wearing a pristine white bib apron with lace trim, while his shining blonde hair sported a frilly little maid's cap in the distinctive, traditional Havisham Hall style which Madam's guests so frequently remarked upon as being so "adorable".

But the real surprise, or shock, for Jack was what he was required to wear underneath the uniform.  For Madam had replaced all his own underwear, including the messy little gaff which had told its own tale of Jack's excitement the previous night.  She had immediately disposed of the soiled article and replaced it with a brand new, much stronger and firmer gaff, holding his little willy back between his legs in a way which Jack soon realized would force it to remain completely motionless, however aroused he might become.  There was to be no risk whatsoever, Madam had clearly decided, of anything untoward becoming visible to her guests if they were to glance in the direction of her lovely new parlourmaid.

And Jack was also now wearing a beautiful, lacy brassiere, just sufficiently generous to accommodate what were evidently now fast becoming very prominent breasts.  As Madam tightened the strings of Jack's new corset, the recent development of his bosom became all the more noticeable.  "You've been taking those little pills your mother told me she was giving you, haven't you dear" Madam said as she gave the corset lacings one final pull and tied them firmly in a knot behind his back.

"Now for your shoes my love" said Miss Havisham and Jack looked around the room.  He could see nothing other than some shiny, black shoes with stiletto heels that had to be at least five inches high.   "Yes, these are they, my dear - we must have you looking your very best, and that means walking in an elegant manner, appropriate for such a good-looking girl as you" came the confirmation from Madam that he was going to be required to wear such uncomfortable looking footwear, no doubt for the evening as well as this afternoon.   Jack sighed to himself as he placed his feet in these two absurd looking working shoes.   "Well, I'll just have to get used to them, I suppose" he thought, as Madam told him to walk around the room for a few minutes.

"The effect of the skirt and the heels is magnificent" Madam declared after a short while, clearly delighted with Jack's ability to walk up and down, albeit with a mincing, ever so feminine step.  "Now just show me your lovely curtsey again, will you my sweetheart.   Oh that's wonderful.   Now come along downstairs to the drawing-room - the guests will be starting to arrive at any minute..."

(to be continued)