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.


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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)  

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic episode. Its great to see the episodes appearing so regularly and the guests starting to arrive now.
Cant wait for next week's action!
Maid Marcia x

rocketdave said...

Blabbermouth!

Anonymous said...

Can't see how Jack can escape being exposed as a boy now, no doubt Miss Crafty will take her revenge. Wonderful story, please keep going xx

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the weekly installments and your writing. The level of excitement that you are building is palpable in this weak-hearted reader. But one criticism I must make in this latest installment is the matter-of-fact manner in which it is revealed that Elizabeth is wearing a butt-plug. I have no objection to her wearing it--and it portends of many exciting possibilities--but to simply install this fact and the plug without prior reference or prelude is what I object to. The same with the hormones in Chapter 13 really. Both are great addictions but they both must be developed and explained. Even a reference to old tried and true “vitamins” having been taken or referenced sooner and then a revelation of their real function would be preferable to simple springing of this “development” without prior intimation that now Elizabeth is growing breasts. Even in Chapter 13 with the undergarments and new gaff, a mention that another item on Madame’s bed waiting for Elizabeth was the plug would be better than it simply appearing in Chapter 14 without previous reference. Thank you so much for your work and I know you are a better story teller than this. Perhaps the pressure of getting out a weekly installment has caused you to gloss over such delicious details that would be made all the sweeter had they been cured, developed and then ultimately revealed. And perhaps more of Elizabeth’s inner thoughts would be a vehicle for these explanations. How she feels wearing the plug and what she thinks it means, her noticing the changes in her body before and now she knows that she is being feminized and how she feels about this. This is the stuff of great TG writing. Thanks again and please continue. I do not mean to pick but I think these are valid points and constructive criticism.
Jenny

rocketdave said...

Wait, Jack/Betsy is wearing a butt plug? I totally missed that. I guess that's what I get for not reading carefully enough, though I also agree with the previous commenter that that, like the fact that our "heroine" is developing breasts, is the sort of thing that should probably have been made a bigger deal of. But I also agree that this story has been quite enjoyable for the most part; I haven't been in the mood for this type of fiction lately, but it's good enough that I continue to read each installment regardless. The speculation that the drive to produce such quality work on a weekly basis has led to some missed opportunities is probably correct. Such are the hazards of making stuff up as you go along.

L.G. said...

My thanks to all of you for your comments - but also my apologies for all the omissions and inconsistencies in my writing. I can only plead a combination of inexperience and senility! As mentioned previously, I have never done any writing of this kind before. In addition, probably rather foolishly, I have been working from memory when writing each episode.

I just hope my inadequacies are not spoiling your enjoyment of the story too much. I have been very gratified, and surprised, by the attention which these chapters have attracted.
Hopefully this will encourage me to try and improve the standard of future contributions.

As for whether my desire to contribute weekly episodes is the cause of my inaccuracies and omissions, there may be some truth in this. However I've also noted that some readers do value a steady flow of frequent episodes, and I also fear that, with my poor memory, my mistakes might become even more numerous if I left it any longer between successive chapters!

Thank you again for your interest and for all your comments, and I do hope you all enjoy the remaining Havisham Hall episodes.

Have fun! L.G.

Anonymous said...

We've been loving the slow build-up to the weekend gathering, now the guests are starting to arrive it looks like it will be every bit as embarassing for Jack, and maybe a few others, as we have been preparing for. Can't wait for the next instalment now the party is getting under way. J&R.

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