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)


Anonymous said...

Fantastic! I know you warned there were surprises coming but never expected Miss Crafty to get fired! Good for dear Miss havisham! I wonder how Jack will get on now without Miss C there to torment him?! Keep the story running please, its wonderful
Anon xx

Anonymous said...

Lovely story, please keep going, I enjoy every episode more and more. Waiting for the next one already!
Maid Marcia xx

Anonymous said...

The twists keep on coming and I am loving it. Thank you for keeping this story going so regularly. It is indeed a treat!!

Anonymous said...

We're enjoying discussing what's going to happen next, neither of us have guessed that Miss Craftey would be sacked. What next? Its a great story this. J&R

L.G. said...

Marcie, J and R, and the anon readers, I'm delighted you are enjoying the story. There's still a few episodes to write, and I can't promise they will all be on time every week, but hopefully you will see the next instalment very soon. I thought the sacking of Miss Craftey would take a few of you by surprise, there may be a few more surprises in store before we finish!
Enjoy the fun! L.G.

L.G. said...

Marcie, J and R, and the anon readers, I'm delighted you are enjoying the story. There's still a few episodes to write, and I can't promise they will all be on time every week, but hopefully you will see the next instalment very soon. I thought the sacking of Miss Craftey would take a few of you by surprise, there may be a few more surprises in store before we finish!
Enjoy the fun! L.G.

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