Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Heroine of Havisham Hall - Part 17

For the next hour Jack was subjected to gentle but relentless humiliation at the hands of both Pamela Quinn and Melissa Franklin.   First he was required to run a bath for Miss Quinn, then to carry her washing-bag into the bathroom for her, then to lay out a bath mat, and then to start warming one of the fluffy towels on the radiator ready for her use.  Pamela had insisted that, to each instruction, Jack must reply "Yes, My Lady, of course My Lady" with a respectful curtsey before obeying her command.  Poor Jack found himself nipping backwards and forwards between the bedroom and the en suite bathroom, not only performing the endless little tasks but also having to utter this infernal phrase every time.

When Pamela Quinn was finished in the bathroom, Jack thought this ordeal might be over, but no, it began all over again with Melissa Franklin.  If anything this was even worse for Jack, for Melissa decided to provide added amusement by conducting a constant teasing dialogue.  While she lay relaxing in the bath, she asked him the most embarrassing questions she could think of.

"So, Betsy" Miss Franklin would ask, "what's it like for a boy like you to become a sweet little maid?  Was this the job you were hoping for, when I first met you in the street with your auntie?  Are you enjoying the work?   You are very good at it, and very pretty, don't you think?" 

On and on she went, and Jack was obliged to respond "Yes My Lady, of course My Lady" to every question and to keep curtseying all the time.   He then had to help Miss Franklin out of the bath, dab her dry with another warm fluffy towel, hand her bath robe to her, and curtsey once more as she solemnly announced that she was now going to rest on her bed for a while so that she would have the energy to dress for dinner.

At this point, to Jack's great relief, Miss Quinn - now seated at the dressing-table where she was admiring herself in the mirror - glanced over her shoulder and casually dismissed Jack:  "Maid, either Miss Franklin or I will send for you when we require you next.  I think we'll need some help with our new gowns in a little while, won't we Mel?"   And Melissa Franklin yawned and replied "Yes, I certainly will, I'm beginning to think it will take me all evening to get into this Dior creation...."

But Jack didn't wait to hear any more.  Seizing upon Miss Quinn's invitation to escape, he had already curtseyed and, with a prompt but courteous "Very well, My Lady" was straight out the door.

As he made his way back to Annabelle's room to complete the packing of his belongings, ready for his move later that evening, Jack wondered to himself how soon those two arrogant girls would ring for him again.   He had visions of them fetching him straight back, and then having him run backwards and forwards between his room and theirs until they were ready to present themselves for dinner.   But a pleasant surprise awaited him when he reached Annabelle's room, for on his bed he found a scribbled note:

"Dear Betsy.  Madam asked me to take all your things to your new room for you, so I've done that. She also asked me to tell you to stop attending upon guests in their rooms now, as she has some jobs she needs you for.  She said they're old enough to dress themselves!!  You lucky thing Betsy, your new bedroom looks a lovely room, and it sounds to me like you'll just be working for Madam from now on!   Good luck!   Must go now, Karen needs me to help lay up the table in the dining-room and it's going to take us ages.  See you later, Love A x"

Jack literally jumped for joy!   He hurriedly wrote a short thank-you to Annabelle, closed the door and skipped along the corridor and up the stairs to his new room.

                                         *                          *                          *                         *

To enter his new bedroom, Jack was required to knock first on Miss Havisham's own bedroom door, wait for Madam to answer it, enter the room, drop the obligatory curtsey and await her invitation to pass through her bedroom into his own.   This, he immediately realized, was going to be a regular ritual from now on.  But he consoled himself with the thought that he would be under Miss Havisham's protection - and hopefully would now enjoy a closer and more intimate relationship with Madam.  The rigmarole required to gain entry to his bedroom was a small price to pay for the safe, secure feeling which this arrangement would give him.  Besides, he was now so relieved to be free, not only from the fierce discipline of Miss Craftey, but also, at least for the time being, from the cruel psychological bullying he was suffering at the hands of Miss Quinn and Miss Franklin.

Jack felt quite suddenly that he had arrived in a sort of haven, some kind of paradise even, compared with where he had been these past few weeks.   As Madam opened her door to let him come through her room, he completely forgot the curtseying and instead fell into her arms, crying as he tried to thank her for what she was now offering him.

"Oh thank you Madam" Jack sobbed. "I'm so pleased to be of service to you.  I hope I'll be allowed to serve you for ever Madam.  Please tell me what you want, Madam, I'll do everything I can for you."

                                        *                         *                            *                             *
For her part Gloria Havisham was thrilled to have finally made the decision to engage "Elizabeth" as her ladies' maid.   She had known all along that this was what she wanted, ever since she first met Jack at Emily Quinn's little tea party, but what particularly thrilled her now was the look of sheer delight apparent behind the tears of pleasure on Jack's face.  Now here he was, this most perfect of little girly boys, throwing his arms around her neck as she welcomed him into her own embrace.

There was a moment or two of further quiet sobbing while they caressed one another, then Miss Havisham spoke gently to her new personal ladies' maid:  "Now now, my little love...   It's your birthday today and I told you there would be a special present for you didn't I?   Well this is it, my beautiful, and I know how much you will enjoy working for me...."    Madam paused again for a moment then went on, slightly hesitantly "You will work for me, for always, I mean?  Not for anyone else, please....   I know you'll be very good indeed as my maid...."    And then, after another brief pause, "Now come along, there's lots to do - and I haven't even dressed for dinner yet.  You're going to have to help me Elizabeth.  Now tell me please, which of these three dresses do you think would be best for tonight...?"

                                          *                            *                        *                            *

Sixty minutes later, thanks to Jack's natural flair as a ladies' maid - not only in helping Madam to select the right dress, but also in constantly reassuring her how wonderful she was looking - Gloria Havisham was in sparkling form downstairs receiving all her guests.  She was so pleased that Elizabeth had encouraged her to go for the gold lame mermaid-style dress, which she felt helped her to stand out as the hostess amongst the stunning array of top designer outfits worn by her guests.   And how sensible to opt for the plain gold necklace and the simple gold and pearl ear-rings, as Elizabeth had suggested.   As she led the party through to the dining-room to take their places for dinner she winked at Jack, who by now was positioned against the wall and responded, as he and Annabelle had both been instructed by Agnes, with a neat little curtsey to Madam and a soft "Good evening, My Lady" to each of the guests.

As the dinner guests passed before him, Jack noticed a variety of expressions on their faces.  Lady Lavinia and Dame Olivia both seemed to be quite impressed and smiled benevolently at him as they passed by.   Several of the other guests, including both Mrs Quinn and her sister Mrs Davies, and also Mrs Franklin, simply ignored him.   Jack had been warned, long ago, that as a humble maid he should not expect to be treated any differently from a piece of furniture.   Nevertheless it was pleasing to have been acknowledged by the more distinguished guests, he thought to himself.   Then in came Miss Quinn and Miss Franklin, the former scowling at him, the latter giggling - they had no doubt been annoyed to find they were no longer receiving room service.  And then, worst of all, came Rose.  Was he really going to have to call her mother's former maid "My Lady" all this weekend?  Rose simply gave him a quick look up and down, as though to tell him he passed inspection for now, but would have a word with him later.   What, Jack wondered, would Rose - er sorry, Miss Wilson - be wanting to say to him....?

(to be continued)


Anonymous said...

Excellent! We thought Rose might have a further part to play in this saga - not sure how happy Jack will have been to see her again!! Please keep this story running!
Anon xx

Anonymous said...

Another fantastic instalment, love this story more than ever
Maid Marcia x

Anonymous said...

A wonderful story, we can't wait to see how Jack gets on now that he is sleeping so close to Madam!

L.G. said...

Marcia, J&R & the anon reader, I'm so glad you're all enjoying the story as it develops. After the long build-up, we've finally arrived at the big weekend and it should be fun! Well, for some, that is! Not sure how much fun it will be for Jack at this stage, but we will see...
Keep reading - and keep giving your comments please. They are all most welcome.
Love to all, L.G.

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